British farmers face a tough harvest. According to the government, costs have risen by almost a third from last year, low rainfall and record temperatures have meant poor yields and labor shortages mean some crops are rotting in the fields. To diversify their income, some farmers are turning to social media. American farmers started bragging about their lives and jobs a few years ago, now their British counterparts are following suit to boost unstable incomes. Some make more money from YouTube than from growing food.
lly Harrison, a grain farmer in Merseyside, said he made £55,000 on his YouTube channel last year compared to a £240,000 loss at his farm due to poor weather and rising input prices. He expected to make “at least £8,000” from ads in October, a sum that will go towards “supporting” his farm. Harrison has expanded his online business to merchandise including branded hats and calendars printed with images of his farm.
Since lockdown began in March 2020, he has started uploading 10-minute farm life videos every day and has so far gained over 51,000 followers on his Olly Blogs Agricontract Farmer channel. His videos have garnered over 21 million total views, a number so high Harrison said he was invited to speak to someone at Google’s London office.
“[YouTube] is pure profit,” he said, comparing his relatively high margins to the razor thin in farming, which would require £80,000 a month in sales to take that much home. He added that the amount he will earn this year is roughly equal to his farm subsidy, which will be reviewed after Brexit.
Ian Pullen, who mainly raises cattle on 60 acres in Gloucestershire, said his YouTube channel is currently doing as much as the cattle on his farm. His 37,000 subscribers watch daily videos of him digging trenches and spreading dirt. He raised enough money last year to buy a new barn.
Pullen says one of the main issues at his farm this year has been rising costs. He recently bought 11 tonnes of fertilizer for £10,000 when the same amount would have cost £3,000 three years ago.
While UK inflation hit 10.1% in September, the rate for farm inputs rose about three times that, at a rate of 30.7%, according to the Farm Price Index. Figures compiled by sourcing group AF show that fertilizer prices more than doubled in one year, fuel prices were 43% higher and animal feed and medicines prices were 36% higher than at the same time last year.
But farmers who know the ups and downs of farming are also concerned that YouTube income may not be guaranteed forever. Pullen said that while online income is a “godsend,” it could be “gone tomorrow” if social media companies change the way they operate.
Year-round income from social media is a welcome income diversification for farms with limited growing seasons, like Sarah Gray’s 2-acre flower plot. She can only sell flowers from her East Yorkshire farm between April and October, but her YouTube channel brings in £500-600 a month all year round. Not only does she make money from advertising, but she also sells access to pre-recorded video tutorials, which she says are being bought as far away as New Zealand.
Mistakes or bad luck with the weather are not good for floriculture, YouTube users can be more forgiving. “It doesn’t matter if I get bugs growing flowers,” she said. “People like to see my failures and my successes, so I still get income.”
While YouTube income is welcome, some farmers would rather pack their cameras and make the money in a more traditional way. “I would give up everything tomorrow just to make a profit on the farm,” Harrison said.
https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/news/farming-news/uk-farmers-earn-more-money-as-social-media-influencers-after-rough-year-42118205.html UK farmers make more money than social media influencers after a tough year