Message from John Firth

Message from John Firth – December 2021

John Firth
John Firth

John Firth is a 5th generation Firth, current CEO of the Firth Group. Other farming divisions within the Firth-family farms include: Maquassi Spruit Pecan NutsHighlands CycadsFirth Red Brangus, Firth Wagyu and Hillcrest Game Estates.

Dear farmers, friends and readers

This time last year, I commenced my Christmas Message with the words, “The end of this somewhat crazy upside-down year has arrived! Can you believe it!” Well, since then,  yet another year has passed swiftly by, and quite uncannily so, what another crazy upside-down year it’s been, again! Living with the threat of Covid-19 surely has become the new normal and seemingly, with it, the way in which the world of commerce and business functions too. This can be said for farming too.

Over the past year, we’ve been met with several challenges—mostly, to keep our farming operations productive and profitable. This hasn’t always been easy. In some cases, tough decisions were necessary, but in the end, my team continue to forge ahead with tenacity and commitment. This pleases me greatly. Farming is not an easy business—what with the ever-present threats from the political arena that continue to hover over the heads of farmers everywhere. However, as my trusted general manager Piet Botma always says: let’s continue to remain positive and focus on doing what we do best—farming! I couldn’t agree more: there’s nothing quite like a focused mindset (and business strategy) to keep one’s mind and sights on a core set of necessary goals in order to remain productively operational. 

Similarly, perseverance remains key—to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us” as the Bible so aptly encourages us to do.

Some of the highlights from the past year include the Firth Red Brangus farming division being awarded a Brangus Four Star Award; the successful first harvesting of our inaugural pivot-irrigation maize crop and the continued growth of my very special collection of cycads at the Highlands Cycads division. Of course, it goes without saying that many of the successes that my team have seen and realised over the course of the past year have gone by unnoticed or unmentioned because this is so indicative of the very nature of the farming business and the life of a farmer: nobody sees, but myself. 

For this reason, the often-quoted Japanese farmer and philosopher, Masanobu Fukuoka’s wisdom ought to continue to inspire and encourage farmers everywhere: “The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.” Whilst I maintain that we will never reach perfection on this side of heaven, I do believe that it’s in the fires of the farming pursuit that the toughest and finest iron is forged. As such, I would encourage my many friends, peers and colleagues from the South African farming community to remain strong and steadfast in your efforts to keep the farming dream alive. For me personally, I remain curious and courageous for what’s to come. I encourage you to do the same.

On behalf of my entire team at the Firth Group, may I wish you and your family a peaceful & merry Christmas, as well as a happy and fruitful New Year! Be sure to remember the true meaning of Christmas—namely, to celebrate the birth of Christ and the gift of salvation that Jesus brings to all who place their faith, hope and trust in Him. 

Warm season’s greetings

John Firth