Farmers Focus- Arable Producer – Mark MCFarren

With all the hype about the impending single farm payment, the distraction of leaving unsown areas of ploughed ground for wild bird cover and rough grass margins, and the concentration of getting winter cereals sown in a pretty wet autumn, I forgot all about leaving some ground for set-aside.

I really should have remembered because a couple of months ago DARD’s David Crawford held a workshop on our farm explaining the new rules about set-aside for the incoming year.

After contacting our IACS headquarters, I discovered my total area of set-aside eligible ground based on the years from 1999-2003 was 66.37ha (165 acres), which means I must set aside 4.7% of that area.

 My question now is can I use the same ground I have ear-marked for environmental schemes, or will I have to set aside some of the ground already sown in winter cereals?

As the loose ends regarding set-aside have not been tied up, no-one in DARD is able to give me an answer. I will just have to be patient.

Attending a recent one-to-one clinic organised by the Ulster Farmers Union on the implications of the new CAP regulations was particularly useful and I am now waiting for answers to several questions concerning my own single farm payment.

 In the meantime, I intend to talk to as many people, attend as many meetings and ask as many questions as I can to make the best decisions possible in the coming year.

On the home front, after six months of working on our living room, we hope to get back in again at the end of this week. With all the waiting for answers to SFP issues I think I”ve become more patient.

But I’m not sure if Alison sees things the same way!