Business Update

From AF CEO Jon Duffy

AF Update for March 2019

Since the earliest times man has been forecasting the weather. Whilst our ancestors used to use seaweed, tea leaves, or when the ash and oak leaves came out, we now rely on sophisticated technology and computer modelling.

A year ago the beast from the east was in full swing and we were having to cook bacon butties in the office for the brave folk who managed to get into work. The phones on the fuel desk were going berserk to ensure we kept on delivering heating oil, and the demand for forage and animal feed was huge. This year the daffodils are almost out, staff are sharing stories about taking their families to the beach with the kids in shorts and T-shirts, and our orders for crop protection, spring seed, and fertiliser have never been greater. The changing weather is something that farmers are just very good at dealing with – we get accurate forecasts and it can be planned for and actions can be taken to mitigate the effects.

We understand the weather better than ever. In the case of Brexit, it’s anyone’s guess.

It is with more than a little annoyance that I have to write this introduction without knowing how Brexit will finally happen. The sheer incompetence of the whole process is staggering and it is little wonder that the general public are losing respect of the political classes.
Business needs certainty; certainty gives confidence, confidence leads to investment, and investment leads to increased productivity and returns. It is a virtuous circle. Uncertainty benefits no one. At AF we are working tirelessly to ensure that our members still get the products and services they require. In other words, we are working very hard to give you a level of certainty.

This is what we know currently:
Could there be delays in certain products arriving? Yes, particularly if there is an import process. Therefore, if there are goods that are vital to you from a time perspective, please order sooner rather than later. We have been working with suppliers to ensure that certain products are held in stock.
Could there be price changes to goods already ordered? In the vast majority of cases the answer is ‘no’. However, there are certain products (in particular animal feed) where suppliers have introduced a ‘price subject to change clause if tariffs or taxes are imposed post-Brexit’.
As I write this the Government has indicated that they hope to protect farmers from a possible no-deal. ‘Indicated’ and ‘hope’ – that is like reading the tea leaves…..
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