Farmer Focus: David Shepherdson passes ACCS inspection with flying colours

Our annual Crop Assurance inspection has been completed this week and we passed with top marks.

The inspections seem a little less daunting than when the scheme was first introduced. As you’d expect, it takes more time to fill in the relevant paperwork than it does to inspect the actual grain store.

I’m still not 100% convinced of the schemes’ alleged benefits. Inclusion was entirely voluntary in the initial stages, but now it’s compulsory to be allowed to market grain.

With ACC subscriptions, sprayer MOTs and sprayer-operator NRoSO membership mandatory, the costs just mount up; and that’s without considering the invisible cost of the sprayer operator’s time spent meticulously filling in all the records. It soon amounts to a considerable sum of money without any clear return.

Natural England and the RSPB have joined forces to try to force compulsory set-aside upon us once again. I believe it’s over-estimating the amount of fallow land lost since set-aside ceased to exist. Many acres were cropped with energy crops.

It would be much more of an attractive proposal if it were made an option in ELS and could be spread more evenly across the whole farm by way of headlands and awkward corners rather than whole fields.

I think this is the first time we’ve reached the month before harvest without any contracts to move our newly combined winter malting barley to make room for the wheat.

All the barley is down to Pearl; but with no market for malting barley and little premium over feed, perhaps now’s the time to consider a switch to a high-yielding feed variety and fill the barn rather than produce a small heap of malting barley for an ever-dwindling malting market.

Either way we will have to make a decision before too long.

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