National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

20 April 2020

Supporting farmers with grain marketing decisions is still a role Luke Cox from Malmesbury YFC is able to fulfil in isolation while he’s based on the family farm in the Cotswolds.

What’s your job?

I work for Frontier Agriculture, the UK’s leading crop production and grain marketing business. As a farm trader I form close customer relationships with farmers to support their business in grain marketing decisions. I have customers stretching from Devon through to Nottingham, and I enjoy helping them to add value to the crops they grow by linking them with a variety of end markets for their grain.

Has the Coronavirus impacted your family farm?

The family farm in the Cotswolds has not been directly hit by Coronavirus yet, as the majority of work is carried out in isolation anyway and food production is rightly classed as essential work. Further down the line, however, I think the industry must expect the nature of how food is produced in the UK to change. Will the UK actively work to become more self-sufficient? Will consumers quickly return to eating out as much as they used to, now more people have had to cook more meals at home? It is too early to know what will change permanently, but the adaptations we have all made during this crisis could alter our behaviour.

What plans have you put in place to manage the possible impact of the outbreak?

As a farm trader, the biggest change to my way of working has been the transition to home working. There is no doubt that it is a very different way of working, but I am very fortunate that I am supported well by the company I work for in terms of technology and equipment and I have my own office space at home. I also don’t have anyone depending on me or to manage my time around, such as children. This has made it very easy for me to complete my normal work routine during the day, and then shut the door on my office at the end of the day to create a clear separation between work and home. In all other respects of my work, it is business as usual. I still look after my customers and provide them with the information they need, and our supply chain connections ensure we can deliver our first-class service in as close to the usual way as possible.

How do you feel about the essential role British farming is playing during the crisis?

Food production is essential, and if supply chains are disrupted as we near the peak of the coronavirus, UK food is likely to become even more in focus. As some products disappear off supermarket shelves due to panic buying or lack of supply, many local farm shops remain stocked with fresh, traceable food produced on the consumer’s doorstep.  There has been a noticeable and significant increase in appreciation for people in the NHS who are working around the clock to save lives.  Once the coronavirus crisis has ended, it would be great if one of the legacies is people having a better understanding of the countryside and role farmers have in UK food production.

Should the public be concerned about food shortages?

Britain’s farmers are still producing food, just as they always have. To protect that essential food production it is important that we all respect the land and facilities we use when we access the countryside, for example when we are out walking.

What ways are your YFC supporting each other?

Whilst the coronavirus crisis has restricted personal contact, the volume of online communication has significantly increased. One member within our club has organised a quiz once a week, where we all meet up on video link and compete for beer tokens once the pubs reopen.  Outside of Young Farmers I have been taking part in online quizzes, answering questions with friends over video as another means to maintain contact and support each other.  Both in a social sense and a business sense, the forced move to virtual meetings has highlighted the strong benefits of shorter, more frequent discussions, which ensure as individual groups we remain connected and look after each other.

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