We live in a world where we are increasingly bombarded by what feels like mental bomb shelling. We are now more than ever forced into awareness of complex issues outside of our immediate sphere of influence, knowledge or let’s face it, interest. Usually, these barrages come from policy makers, commercial interests, mainstream media and more recently from peers on social media. There are organisations everywhere yelling at us about what they are working on, and that it is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN THE WORLD! If only we would listen! The problem is you cannot hear any one thing for all the noise.

For farmers, the day to day is perhaps one of the most extraordinarily complex of all ‘jobs’ to hold. The multitude of tasks may involve project and business management, marketing, accounting, health and safety, compliance and procurement. That is before we get to doing any actual growing, rearing, nurturing or husbandry! Farmers are facing climatic, market, labour, financial and resiliency issues and are increasingly looking outside of their own farming system for solutions. There appear to be shiny silver bullets* everywhere that claim to be the solution to these challenges.

It is a time of great change and disruption, but crucially increased fear mongering. With eyes darting from new compliance and regulatory requirements (don’t get me started on the plethora of certifications and standards), social media platforms, news articles and our ears ringing with two-minute sound bites on carbon markets and rewilding, the distraction can all get a bit overwhelming at times.

One of the most remedial steps you can take as a farmer is to stop, turn everything off and take a breath. It is important to take a step back from the chaos outside of your own immediate life and farm boundaries and focus on what is within your control. The growing momentum of farmers transitioning towards regenerative, holistic or agro-ecological farming systems reveals a social phenomenon is underway whereby farmers, families and communities are rejigging the system. No longer willing to be pawns in the corporatisation of the industry, they are asking some pretty simple questions and getting back to basics to regain control. One of the problems for those new to these ideas is it can seem almost too simple to be effective, but in reality, this simplicity is key to long term success and happiness.

It is essential to take the time out to write down a few things. You don’t need a template and you don’t need anyone else to tell you ‘How’. All you need is some quiet time and to be clear about these fundamentals:

  1. Who is on your team?
  2. What do you have to work with?
  3. What’s the long-term goal for you and your family and community – economic, environmental, social. Keep it simple, no calculations required.

The simplicity in this can appear too obvious to be interesting, and attention can quickly leap to aforementioned sexy silver bullets. But once written down and re-read every day, little by little you will regain control over what you reject and what you keep. Every decision and action you take is tested against your goal. Without having this clarity, the danger is that you are trapped on the hamster wheel never making progress but keeping the machine turning. As we feel more helpless or that our life is out of our own control, we spiral downwards, and the inevitable mental health issues can creep in: our bodies and minds increasingly fatigued.

What is interesting about this simple step is the number of farmers who end up undertaking complete farm systems changes to build the life they actually want. No longer managing specific crops or livestock systems simply because that’s what they have always done – they ask the fundamental question: Is doing this action getting me towards my goal? Share your goal widely with anyone you work with. It’s fundamental to building long term relationships that ensure you are getting to where you want to be.

The most exciting part of being in the UK is the plethora of assistance that is available to help you achieve your goals. Government and industry will always have their own agendas, but once you are clear on yours you can get support, knowledge, funding and assistance on every aspect whilst aligning with the appropriate organisations and marketplaces. As advisors our job is to support you in what YOU want to achieve and finding the appropriate silver bullet solution can be a team effort. You are definitely not alone, but it should be your own finger on that trigger with a clear target in sight.


*Silver Bullets: Technology, Equipment, ‘free’ databases and platforms, Carbon markets, Certifications and Standards, Capital Grants and Agri-environment schemes, Rewilding, GMO’s

NB: All of these can be useful if appropriate to your context and goal. They can be useful or detrimental dependant on how they are used.