Farmer Focus: Cold snap welcome for Richard Cobbald

The cold start to 2009 has been welcome, allowing us to tidy up the few headlands that needed ploughing. I hope we’ll do some frost cultivating on our sugar beet and spring barley land.

The snow cover has kept pigeons off the oilseed rape and allowed us a break from twice-daily patrols. Unfortunately, it came a little late it would have been far more useful on Christmas Day morning.

My only concern with this chilly snap is for our winter beans, which could do with a mild spell to get them going.

The start of 2009 has seen bit of a rally in commodity prices, with the dizzy heights of £100/t for wheat being talked about. Rape prices are also rising along with the crude oil price hike, spurred by the Palestinian problems and the Russians cutting off some gas supplies.

Does this mean we’ve hit the bottom for fuel prices and should all be buying as much diesel as we can hold?

At least we can say with little fear of contradiction that the New Year is likely to bring more of the same, namely, we gain a little which is then taken away elsewhere.

As I write I think the vote in Brussels on 12 January on the future of pesticide regulations will have the biggest potential impact on long-term agriculture and horticulture.

There seem to be many opinions on this subject, so let’s hope the agrochemical companies’ scientists can find replacements in the five-year change-over period. If not I believe the whole look of the countryside and the way it functions could be drastically affected.

I agree the environment is very important, but it does feel that we’re suffering at the hands of European countries more poorly regulated than us.

A prosperous 2009 to you all.