Survival first

If you find
It can be tempting to focus on the expansion of the business side of farming without looking adequately at the survival of the family and the environmental underpinnings of that same business
Without a solid base on the land and in our family, there is little chance that the farm business will survive the ups and downs of the market and environment
Survival must be the first aim in farming for most of us.

This means keeping the family alive, well fed and together as a unit. It also means caring for the land that supports the farm.

We tend to think of survival primarily in relations to emergencies and there is certainly a need for that sort of preparedness.

However, this is about a couple of lines in the farm plan (whether a written one or an unwritten plan) that make it clear that the primary reason most of us farm is to have a lifestyle on this land with this family.

Many farmers focus on getting bigger, more profitable etc while forgetting to cover their bases. In chasing profit, some are “too busy” to make sure they have food grown at home such as fruit, vegetables, milk, eggs and meat.

If there is a crop disaster, they may not have the capacity to buy food, pay the most basic bills etc without borrowing.

Of course, “survival” comes in many forms. I knew some farmers who had a survival vineyard which could be managed entirely with a lawnmower in about an hour a month even under drought or other difficult conditions. It produced enough grapes to make a few hundred bottles of wine, this allowed them to put a bottle of wine on the table every night. Not my most basic need, but for them it was definitely seen as a survival essential.

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