Farmer Focus: Andrew Hunter, March column

It feels like we’ve won the lottery. Our biogas plant subsidy application has been approved and we have two years to bring it to fruition accessing £1.4m from the EU and Hungarian government.

The tricky part now is deciding what we want to build.

We have started on our new workshop, potato store and packing shed aiming to finish it by July.

That’s leading to many issues in linking it to the biogas project for heating and cooling.

I’ve been shocked by the dairy company offering to raise the milk price when we’d already signed a contract for the first quarter of this year. I’m very suspicious of the motive.

Winter’s been very mild and we’ve been able to drill 300ha (741 acres) of spring barley in excellent conditions.

The potato market continues to worsen. One Thursday a customer sent an email removing 40% of our business overnight without any discussion, meeting or consultation – what joy dealing with supermarkets!

In Serbia, the Kosovo issue has made it almost impossible to sell grain as everyone is converting money into Euros, expecting an imminent collapse of the economy. We have more than 4000t in stock with no buyers.

We are working hard to increase our borrowing in Hungary to finance our Ukrainian share-farming operation, as bank borrowing within the country is impossible in our opinion.

Ground conditions in the Ukraine have started to improve and we are getting field work done, though we are struggling to get all the machinery in place in time.

My on-farm time is being limited by the three-week Institute of Agricultural Management Leadership Development course.

I hope that in the future the organisers realise this is a bad time of year for farmers. It has, though, provided the benefit of meeting FW editor Jane King.

See more