With only 12ha of broccoli to gather, harvest, including the beans that yielded surprisingly well, is virtually complete and our excellent student Ian has returned to college.


Sowing is progressing well, so my thoughts now turn to buying cattle for finishing in the spring. This is a habit I don’t seem to be able to wean myself off. I’m not sure I get even the smallest kick I might expect from other addictions – unless a wayward hoof in your posterior counts – and for years we have said that that the only profit from this enterprise is the muck.

But, will I stop? No. This farm needs a healthy dollop of the stuff every year and I firmly believe that you cannot buy what it contains in a bag. However, with the price of straw and feed as high as they are, we cannot and will not pay last year’s store prices of over £1.80/kg and hope to pay no more than £1.60/kg. If other finishers think the same then there will be a sizable shortfall in incomes for suckled calf producers.

Scottish farmers are currently concerned about the threat of draconian penalties should an inspection of farms find ineligible areas of land that have been claimed for single farm payments. So there has been a long queue of farmers, including me, who have been visiting the local SGRPID office to check over their maps and claims. The staff in Galashiels have been excellent and extremely helpful. But the punishment that can be meted out to those who transgress by even the smallest amount is disproportionate to the “crime” committed.

Cheryl Cole only had to choose who was to appear in the live show of the X Factor, which must have been easy. Choosing which combine to buy? Now that’s something to concentrate your mind.

• Read more from Neil Thomson here.

• See more from Arable Farmer Focus.