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Why are farmers special ?

(11 Posts)
pompa Thu 16-Oct-14 15:21:18

This as a new thread although it is prompted by another recent thread.

We often hear complaints from farmers regarding poor prices.

I worked in British manufacturing all my working life. British manufacturing has the same problems, customers, especially the big ones like the energy companies demanding lower and lower prices, and if you do not deliver, they go elsewhere in the world. The only way British manufacturing remains viable is by driving it's suppliers prices down and primarily by improving efficiency. Manufacturing does not get the protection that farmers get, two poor months profits usually mean redundancy or worse, shareholders are even more cutthroat than customers.

So why don't we here British manufacturing complaining like the farmers ?

Also in my experience we are keen to know where our food comes from but not so much with manufactured goods (individuals don't have control over man manufactured products as they are not sold directly to the man in the street. The business i was in primarily supplied energy companies, government departments and large engineering companies.

Whilst I am concerned about the farmers problems, I am more concerned about manufacturing, they are the ones who provide jobs.

PRINTMISS Thu 16-Oct-14 16:24:48

You are of course quite right, Pompa, but we need the farmers to provide us with food throughout the year, and everyone needs to ea, but not everyone has a vegetable patch. Manufacturers normally produce goods for sale, and can sell overseas, and they do not have to rely on the weather to ensure a good crop. We all need to think about what we are buying, but few of us know if something is produced in this country, or just put together here - that often happens. We will soon have a Rolls Royce factory opening locally, which is great, but how many very ordinary people are going to be able to afford one of those?These manufacturers can charge what they like, because there is a market out there. It would have been better, as far as I am concerned if we had a new factory opening which produced the basic things needed, like cookers, fridges and washing machines, but so many of these seem to start their life in another country.

pompa Thu 16-Oct-14 17:18:05

Elite companies like RR produce vast sums of foreign currency and many jobs, not just directly but indirectly by way of their suppliers and service providers. However RR is in he minority of British manufacturers, nad I doubt they can charge what they like, they still have to offer a product that suits the market.

You have hit exactly my point, many British companies have gone out of business because they cannot compete in a global market, but no one makes a fuss when the disappear along with the jobs and skills. Very few people would put "Made in Britain" high on their list (we do still make white goods, TV's etc) but we all like to see that union flag on our groceries.

I have worked in the Machine tool industry -- all gone
TV and white goods industry - almost gone
Power instrumentation - just a handful of companies left.

Farmers struggle, we all care
Manufacturers struggle, only those losing their jobs care.

janerowena Thu 16-Oct-14 22:44:01

Because of our roots maybe - I have farmers on both sides of my family and a brother-in-law. They are all keen naturalists and like to think of themselves as guardians of the countryside. None are rich, they all have other work to bring in income to keep the farms afloat. The suicide rate amongst farmers is extremely high.

We need those green lungs that are our countryside. I think of them like giant gardeners, making ours a beautiful country to drive through and provide food. I also see the long hours they work. My next door neighbour leaves his house at 5am every morning to feed his pigs and let them out. He comes home at 12 for an hour and is then gone again until about 5.30pm. His father is 74 and has only just retired.

pompa Fri 17-Oct-14 06:12:44

Janerowena, I agree with you entirely, we do need to support our farmers, as you say they are the custodians of our countryside. I live in a rural area and have close links with several farmers.

My point was that farmers get our sympathy, but manufacturing does not, manufacturing is the custodian of our skill base and global prosperity.

Losing our skills base is particularly worrying, I had a 7 year engineering apprenticeship in the machine tool industry combined with university study. The skills I learnt could not have been taught in a university, only from other skilled craftsmen. As our skilled workforce gets older those skills are dying with them, apprenticeships are a thing of the past (modern apprenticeships are a sham compare to those of my era). University has its place to teach academic skills, but practical skills are taught in the workplace. A combination of the two, sandwich course, is near perfect.

Am I passionate about manufacturing - darn tooting I am.

Even in retirement most of my hobbies involve design & manufacture, using those basic skills I learnt 50 years ago.

kittylester Fri 17-Oct-14 07:33:00

In the 60s I worked for a long established, well respected knitwear company who were persuaded to manufacture exclusively for M&S. All went well until M&S decided that it would be cheaper to manufacture abroad. The company, one of the biggest employers in the area, went bust and the quality of M&S's clothing started its slide!

It's too late for lots of UK manufacturing but we can still save farmers if we don't fall into the same trap!

pompa Fri 17-Oct-14 08:00:55

It's not too late for manufacturing, we do especially well in high tech advanced engineering, especially aero (RR) and aero space.
But it's the thousand of small engineering companies that support the giants of engineering that are the backbone of our engineering industry. There is not much the man in the street can do as they supply to other companies not end users, just don't forget them. Farmers have one advantage, their land cannot be exported to India/China etc.

gillybob Fri 17-Oct-14 09:11:01

My DH and I run a small engineering company in the north east pompa we employ 7 people. We are looked upon as a micro business and might as well not exist as far as the local authority and government are concerned. We receive no handouts, no help and yet are expected to keep up with all legislation and new rulings just as though we were a multi million pound enterprise. We are those first/ second tier providers to big industry you talk about and believe you me if it were not for small businesses like us each providing a few jobs the country would be on its knees. We are always being told that we are the " backbone of British industry" what a joke !

Eloethan Fri 17-Oct-14 09:35:42

This article from Corporate Watch states that it is the small, often family, farmer who is being pushed to the limit and who is barely breaking even. Larger firms benefit to a much greater extent from subsidies. It's a longish article but very interesting.

I think this reflects a general trend of small businesses being pushed out of the market, or taken over by, large ones. Small businesses are less able to withstand late paying customers and the constant attentions of HMRC (which has an entirely different approach to large corporations - often "negotiating" with them as to how much tax they would like to pay). Business experts say that Germany's success lies in its small and middle sized industries but we have gone the other way.

I feel sorry for both of them.

FlicketyB Fri 17-Oct-14 10:36:00

I seem to remember a little couplet about why farmers are always pessimistic. It says it is because:

"If it isn't the drought that ruins the root
its the rain that ruins the grain"

I have been trying to trace the source of this on google, but without success. It is part, I think, of very short poem.

janerowena Fri 17-Oct-14 11:38:00

I do agree with you pompa, it's just that currently farming is worrying me hugely at present because no-one I know can persuade their children to take on the farms. For the older generations this often means a huge upheaval after generations of living on the same land. Most of us get used to moving and few of us get to live in our parents' houses, so it is taken as a sign of failure to either sell up and move out upon retirement, or give up the lease on a house that the family has been in for a couple of hundred years.

But I think the two are comparable, I watched as a beautiful farm next door to where I lived in Kent was bought by Hughie Bachelor, he of peas fame, who went to prison after years and years of buying up small farms and destroying the environment, all in the name of farming efficiency. He was the equivalent of a giant manufacturer of a single car component who builds a vast factory on land too close to a town, employs a few people and more robots and then moves the operation to another country, leaving the factory derelict behind him, after being given grants to start it up in the expectation of him employing more people. I watched and cried as hedgerows, giant oaks and entire streams were bulldozed. My area was blighted, as are those of many people who have giant factories suddenly popping up in front of their windows.

I would love it if people kept their businesses small. It is becoming, as you say, so hard to find a service or buy a part that isn't manufactured abroad.

Ex's father had an electrical contracting business employing 30 men. He went under because he stupidly believed that security and faster payment would finally happen if he took on more local council work. They were the worst payers of all and he went bankrupt, yet he had more work than he could handle.