CAP proposal could leave Andrew Barr significantly worse off

Good Grief (or OMG for younger readers) this April has provided us with 7,000% more rain than last year. Ponds have filled, drains started running and septoria risk has risen and the number of spray days have fallen.

Our carefully calculated application timings involving percentage of leaf three emergence and cumulative average day temperatures have been abandoned in favour of a “go when we can” approach. This is concerning, but after last year’s dry spell, I would still prefer to have the rain and battle the disease.

When we can get on, I continue to apply foliar nutrients with the fungicides. It makes sense in theory but, much like fungicides, sometimes trials results say it pays and sometimes not.

Given the continued moisture, perhaps our local NIAB TAG yield maximisation trials will give some positive results. Higher fungicide rates, foliar nutrient use and increasing nitrogen levels are all being tried and we now meet on a different farm each time which is always interesting.

After the recent talk of fairness from DEFRA it was with a heavy sigh that I read about their latest CAP reform proposals which could leave me substantially worse off than a similar farm 60 miles away in France.

I would love not to be reliant on subsidies and their associated bureaucracy, but the only way I can see these proposals not harming UK farming is if the modulated funds are targeted at projects that will directly improve our competitiveness, while still delivering environmental benefits. For example, precision farming equipment, water storage technology or renewable energy installations.

It can be done. I recently met an Estonian who had received a grant to purchase a no-till drill because it decreased his carbon footprint.

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