In the years of surplus, the canny farmer invested in improving the long-term yield potential of the field itself

The sun is shining and Western Europe is baking in uncommon North African heat. 

Now is not the time for toil but rather a heaven-sent moment to reflect and review. 

The soil is long tilled and the crops are long sown – as the dog days of summer drag there is nothing for it but to survey our holdings and trust to faith that we have done enough to keep ourselves well fed for when winter is here. 

We don a sun hat and take a roundabout tour of this insurance world of ours. We look at the crops and production, but we also take a trip into market to check out the prices and observe changing patterns in demand.  

What do we see? 

We see a land of opportunity. Our biggest and most dependable territories are growing vigorously 

As so often in the past, the US is once again coming through for us. This vast market is growing healthily and shows every chance of improving underlying profitability as it does so.  

What’s more, demand for our specialist wholesale and reinsurance produce is booming. Tastes and appetites are changing fast and buyers want what we are selling.  

Slightly frustrating is that almost all of us farmers trimmed production last year and either sowed other crops or sent the labourers home and let the land lie fallow for a season. 

The cool and wet spring means we can’t have an early harvest and a second crop, so it looks like now we won’t have quite enough to satisfy demand. No-one is going to want to be short of our stock and spot pricing is going to be extremely healthy.  

It’s a pity my own crop still needs weeding and is a little patchier than I would like.  

I regret not improving the drainage and soil balance when I had the chance these tough last few years.  

Instead of growing crops whose prices barely covered the cost of labour, fuel and fertiliser, I should have invested in improving the long-term yield potential of the field itself. It’s easy to see now that instead of having a proper strategy I just planted and hoped for the best, but never mind. 

Let’s make the most of what we’ve got, get the good stuff into the best barn as soon as it is ripe and hope we don’t all sow too much next year and flood the market again. 

I continue my rounds and at the highest end of the market I can see the ultra specialists in the genetically modified ILS business are having quite a time of it.  

After almost a decade in which none of them could do any wrong they had a dreadful couple of diseased and barren years. As a traditional farmer I almost feel sorry for them – until, that is, I remember how they lorded it over us at market and used to tell us we were all stuck in the age of the horse and cart.  

Their seed suppliers are scared and wary of extending credit and some growers won’t be able to plant anything this year. Smallholdings will consolidate and the best will come out of it much stronger. 

My farmer’s gut is telling me that market pricing is getting to the point where even the most frightened supplier will soon see that is a time to try to be a little braver and trust the best with seed capital. 

As I finish my tour I know that everything is as it should be. This is a tough but satisfying business. Our product is evergreen and is good for the world.  

Time to get back to the farm – the young woman from the ministry is coming to explain some new-fangled technologies that she says will transform soil analysis, crop selection, eliminate weeds, pests and disease, monitor and feed my crops without me leaving the farmyard, do all my paperwork, get my products to market quicker and guarantee top prices. 

If she can do just one of those it will be a miracle. This I just have to see. 

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