Opinion: Inflation will be a big topic for farmers in 2022

It’s a pity that the New Year falls in January.

The feeling of renewal and optimism we all crave is not easily summoned at this time of year, when our bodies are cold and sunlight is such a precious commodity.

Our marshy landscape can fill stomachs with food but, even in May (my favorite month), the landscape doesn’t offer much food for the soul.

At this time of year, it takes strength of character to even look out the office window.

About the Author

Matthew Naylor

Farmers Weekly Opinion Writer

Matthew Naylor is the managing director of Naylor Flowers, a Lincolnshire company that grows cut flowers and potatoes for supermarkets. He is a Nuffield Scholar, Prince’s Trust Mentor and member of the governing body of the Marshal Papworth Fund.

Beet and vegetable growers are busy covering all the local roads, and therefore everything else, in the mud, adding to the feeling that we still have a long walk to spring.

See also: Don’t Let Farming Traditions Bind You

The beginning of January is the beginning of our fiscal year. In that sense, at least, I can embrace a fresh start and an opportunity to thrive on the misfortunes of the previous year.

We have exciting projects too. We are moving into our new offices this month and are about to start building a new process cut flower factory.

The current period of super-inflation would have been more welcome after the building was completed than during the design phase, but since I am someone who started farming as a borrower and prefers to invest rather than save, rising prices are my ally even if they are not my friend.

I expect we will talk a lot about inflation in the coming year. Rapid increases in the cost of labor and raw materials are my immediate headache, but could bring the recalibration that consumerism needs.

Supermarkets have yet to significantly raise prices, continuing to ruthlessly and needlessly squeeze more money from an already underinvested supply chain, but change is on the way.

I come to 2022 with fresh energy for another reason too.

At the end of 2016, after 25 years of work and a difficult year personally, I took a step back from the daily production on the farm and my cousin, Chris, became our director of operations.

Since then, I have taken the time to think strategically and find happiness in my personal life. I RENOVATED a house and took some voluntary roles to gain new experiences and to share what I know.

I can’t recommend it highly enough. I had exhausted all my ideas and was running on an empty tank.

Rapid increases in the cost of labor and raw materials are my immediate headache, but could bring the recalibration that consumerism needs

We all think our own work is essential, but it can be better to let a farm run for a few years than to waste energy and money working hard without a clear goal.

Spending less time with farmers and farming took me away from the rituals and herd mentality that caused me to make unprofitable decisions.

Lockdown has given me even more time to reflect on how we grow and market our products, and how we can improve.

I am invigorated enough to begin conducting our business again.

The UK flower market is likely to grow, but I want to meet this demand by marrying greater mechanization with environmentally friendly production techniques.

I want to expand our team with people who can take this approach.

As input prices rise and subsidies disappear, I suspect many readers will re-evaluate their own goals as well. I wish you a pleasant and successful year ahead.

Jessica C. Bell