Farmer Focus Arable: Will Howe gets grilling over farm subsidies

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of a good friend’s company for a day who happens to have left his job in the city through his own volition in the hope of finding a more satisfying career.

So he thought he would do a day’s work experience with someone who is passionate about their job and lifestyle.

During a conversation regarding profitability, 12-month growing cycles, the weather, and overdraft facilities, I inadvertently mentioned subsidies. This was seized upon in a friendly, yet Jeremy Paxmanesque manner, which left me feeling like Michael Howard did after his infamous interview with the tough-talking BBC presenter.

Unfortunately, being a bit of a sceptic myself, I don’t remember the “bad old days”, so my answers really were not that convincing. Why, when civil servants are having their second homes and dry cleaning allowances cut, are farmers being paid from the public purse? Eventually, I agreed it was an extremely good question and diverted the conversation to Wayne Rooney’s inability to use either foot productively.

Back to farming, while explaining that yields were looking to be average this season due to the weather, the additional revenue from straw sales was appearing very attractive. And having heard of prices in excess of £100/acre at auction, I was very keen to speak to our local baling contractor. Sadly, Lincolnshire’s straw market is different to Cornwall’s, so it appears that the new chopper blades will be put to work after all.

The dry weather has left cracks in the ground large enough to lose a spade, but the spell has been broken and we have now had an astonishing 8mm of rain in the past 48 hours, which has, unfortunately, coincided with trying to desiccate the rape. Not to worry, I am sure the barbecue summer will prevail and harvest will be a dream.

• More columns from Will Howe

• More columns from other Arable Farmer Focus writers

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