Ian Brown is a third
generation tenant on the
156ha (385-acre) Lee Moor
Farm, Rennington, Alnwick,
Northumberland where he
grows winter wheat, barley
and oilseed rape as well as
AS rural dwellers in the far north of England we feel a long way from government and that is not helped by two rebuttal reports recently released by the cabinet office.
One says there is no north-south divide and the other maintains that generally things in the countryside are just fine. Prime examples of the fine art of sweeping statements and useful statistics! On Lee Moor I have done what the Prime Minister has asked and it is not the route for the faint hearted. Selling personal assets to keep the business on an even keel is a leap of faith, even for a youngish man like myself.
On the farm we have been servicing machinery and preparing seed barley and peas for collection. Our seed merchant has taken 25t of Espace peas south and we hope a second load will follow. The premium will be greatly welcomed. Fertiliser spreading will be the next task. Last week 50t of UK-manufactured, SP5-rated ammonium nitrate arrived on farm from our grain co-operative at a competitive price. The crops look well, which is a good thing as looking at our year 2000 budgets they must all perform.
Our FWAG Landwise report has been done. It is a good opportunity to record the state of the environment and prepare for some new projects on the farm. Three power poles cut off at 5m (16ft) will have barn owl boxes constructed by the landlords conservation team. These are one area of accommodation on the farm on which I wont be looking for a rent!
After the NFU AGM I was one of the lucky ones chosen to represent the rural economy at No 10. That economy, as represented by the 200 people there, is changing. For some readers that will bring advantages, and to some disadvantages. My mind is focused on my own cash flow, so I chose not to have a word in Mr Blairs ear. But I hope he could read my furrowed brow across the room.
Fertiliser is on farm and ready to be applied at Lee Moor, where Ian Brown says crops will really have to perform this year.