Farmer Focus: 2008 not as bad as it seemed for Martin Lawrenson

Heading into the New Year prompts me to assess the one just gone which has been interesting and challenging to say the least.

At first I thought that it would be a litany of disaster, what with the terrible weather, input price hikes and falling produce values. But the more I thought about it I could see that maybe things weren’t as bad as they seemed.

For a start I think that business-wise we’re in pretty much the same position as we were this time last year and we have received our SFP on time.

We struggled with harvest but the barn is full of reasonably good quality grain.

Potato lifting is ongoing, when the weather allows, and we still hope to dig most of what’s left.

We were also lucky enough to get one good crop of first cut seed hay and two cuts of haylage which are selling fast. Straw is average quality but is also in demand, though there isn’t much of it.

On the downside we had our plans for two wind turbines refused by the local council in May. We also missed getting the majority of the winter corn in and have done quite a bit of damage to some fields from working when conditions weren’t ideal.

However, one plus in leaving the stubbles over winter is that there are birds in abundance feeding on all the fallen barley heads.

All in all we should perhaps count our blessings that we came through the year relatively unscathed. I think that the British farmer has to take more hits than most, but we are resilient and I think we should take pride in being the best in the world.

I hope you all have a very happy and prosperous year – and good luck.

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