Andrew Blenkiron considers the impact from the changes at DEFRA

It’s all change at the top of DEFRA, supposedly a bit of a surprise and disappointment in that we lost Jim Paice from the team. But how much difference is that really going to make to us out in the field? Does it mean we won’t have the nitrate vulnerable zones overturned or get back some of our agchemicals that we have so tragically lost over the last few years. Afraid not, it’s far too late for anything sensible like that to happen.

Can the change help with the CAP reform negotiations in the smoke-filled rooms of Brussels when the deal is eventually done. What about the red tape challenge, has that gone away with Jim or will the new team carry on the push?

I don’t really see how any government department that keeps on changing its ministers or causing such disillusion among its staff can really be effective. Cutbacks, changes and early retirement ensuring lack of continuity are always going to be a challenge and can never be good be good for us. Ask those who deal with a different supermarket buyer every other year what they think about that as progress. Let’s hope that the recently announced changes at the NFU regional offices don’t cause us the same issues for our own organisations.

Back at home, oilseed rape, including the hybrid trials, are all well through. Avoiding the slugs, which have been very determined, is quite a challenge. Most of the wheat is now drilled into excellent conditions; next week we will be into the barley and make a start on sugar beet lifting.

Wheat has already been sold and moved away at a new career best of a massive £240/t. It really is going to hurt when those loads attached to last year’s rolling contracts go out at Christmas at £100/t. Hopefully they will just send a small lorry.

Andrew Blenkiron manages the 4,400ha Euston Estate, south of Thetford. Principal farm enterprises are combinable and root crops, including sugar beet. In addition the estate supports let land, sheep, outdoor pigs, poultry, suckler cows, horses and stewardship

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