Farmer Focus Arable: Andrew Blenkiron hosts farm walks

Thanks to me, you have all been subjected to fewer Rural Payments Agency inspections since I last wrote.

Not through government cutbacks kicking in or through our risk ratings being reassessed, but principally as a result of them descending on me. I hope it wasn’t due to something I wrote in my column last month.

Part of my activities during Red Tractor Week involved meeting DEFRA secretary Caroline Spelman. I gathered she has the ambition for change and wants us, the industry, to help. Let’s hope that she and the rest of this government have the energy and determination see through some of what has been promised.

I am concerned this “let’s be friends and sort out the problem together” stance might just mean business as usual, with farmers carrying more of the cost. We should keep a constant eye on this. I did mention to her my recent new-found friends (the RPA inspectorate), but she moved on at that point.

Don’t you just love a good farm walk? What can be better on a fine summer evening than seeing how good or bad other people’s attempts at grass weed control have been, how many drill misses can you still see in June?

I enjoy the challenge of hosting such events, having the reasons (excuses) ready and being able to justify decisions. We held two such events in June, one for friends from Staffordshire NFU and one for the Soil Association (Farmers Weekly, 25 June).

There was lots of leg pulling from the friends about the organic arable farming and many questions from the Soil Association meeting comparing the two arable systems. The simple answer is that both systems are right and the sooner all involved realise both need to coexist and can be mutually beneficial, the better.

See you at Cereals, the Organic one that is, on 8 July. Lot’s to see and do there.

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