A few weeks ago I visited a local livestock market for the first time since February. None of us could imagine how much the world could have possibly changed since my last visit.
Events cancelled for the foreseeable future, home-schooling and staff furloughed; Social distancing and quarantine, all now parts of our everyday lives and vocabulary.
There were a few glimpses of normality at the market despite the masks and signs warning you to stay 1 metre apart, but it was great to be back and the livestock prices higher than ever.
This got me thinking….
Part of my job involves visiting farms on a regular basis and once the national lockdown was lifted, visits resumed - adhering to social distancing and outdoor meetings. It has been very interesting listening to farmers views of how they were affected by the Coronavirus pandemic.
We all heard of the dairy farms that were no longer having milk collected and pouring it down the drains. A surplus of potatoes left to rot in the field as the supply chain was unable to be diverted.
However, in amongst the gloom there were many positive stories.
It wasn’t that long ago we had to queue to get into the supermarket to find the shelves bare of the essentials such as milk, eggs (and toilet paper). Quickly the local farm-shops became the place to go to stock up and social media played a great part in promoting what was available on our doorstep.
Farms who had previously been selling meat produce at the farm gate quickly scaled up to offer home deliveries. The sale of milk from vending machines increased and eggs which were almost impossible to get hold of in the local supermarket were in abundance if you knew where to find them.
Consumers were forced to move away from the convenience of shopping in one place which we have all become used to, but found they didn’t have to look too far for far superior alternatives. I know of many people who would only buy poor quality meat from the supermarket as they viewed butchers and farm shops as too expensive and inconvenient but were soon converted!
I do feel the British public have re-engaged with the farming community over the last six months and the number of people who voted overwhelmingly in support of the British Agricultural Bill would reinforce this.
When life does get back to normal, or the ‘new normal’, the big question will be whether we will go back to our old buying habits?
Have people had more time to shop locally as they have been furloughed or working from home?
Is there more disposable income due to less travel costs and holidays to pay for?
Now we have tasted the fantastic fresh produce that is offer I think the support will continue to grow. You certainly can’t beat the taste of fresh creamy milk in your bowl of cornflakes or in my case, coffee!
This will hopefully give farmers the confidence to consider diversification and additional income streams on the farm and not be solely reliant on the traditional supply chains.
Reaching Net Zero by 2040 is high on the agenda for UK farming and the public recognise climate change as a huge issue. We want to know where our food is coming from!
Reducing the supply chain and selling locally reduces the carbon footprint and contributes to reaching Net Zero!
The last two years we have received more enquiries about financing projects allowing farms to sell direct to the public, whether by milk vending machine, meat processing equipment or even delivery vehicles - but the last six months the enquiries have dramatically increased and we have worked closely with our customers to help them finance these plans. At Midlands Asset Finance we work with a large panel of funders and can assist with all types of finance requirements.
We work closely with many trusted suppliers and consultants to assist our clients with as much information they need to make the right decisions for them and their business. To find out more please get in touch with me, Sue Baker on 07821 125327 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: More details about the services Midlands Asset Finance provide, can be found via https://www.produceandprovide.co.uk/find-equipment the Equipment & Services page on our website.