WITH huge advances in agriculture over the last 50 years, the risky business of farming must surely be more predictable and stable.

Modern farming is less intuitive and more data-driven, but that hasn’t eliminated the uncertainty of it.

Risk is the probability of an unwanted event occurring; every year farmers brace themselves for those uninvited events. Who could have predicted that Russia would ban imports of UK dairy products and the consequent impact this would have on milk prices here in Wales?

Extreme weather events, be they drought, flooding or snow, cannot be predicted, although farms can build resilience into the business to mitigate the repercussions.

Who can forget the spring blizzards of 2013 when thousands of sheep and cattle perished in the snow in parts of north Wales? Certainly not the farmers whose businesses have yet to fully recover. And as that year came to a close, the extreme flooding in Somerset. Some farm businesses in that region will take years to get back on their feet.

The ups and downs of farming are nothing new, they are after all recorded in the Bible. Today, farmers are faced with a host of additional risks that can result in financial loss. The global marketplace is risky with farmers susceptible to a fall-off in world demand, trade restrictions and currency fluctuations.

Producers can use a combination of financial strategies and tools to manage risk including forward contracts. Off-farm employment by members of the farm household is commonplace in Wales, providing a more certain income stream. Yet, nothing can offset all the risks of operating a farm.

As the public becomes more knowledgeable about how their food is produced, thanks to educators and the agriculture industry, it is important not to leave out the very basic fact that farming was, and still is, a financially risky business.