Farmer Focus: Fears CAP greening will lead to errors

The only positive I can find in this whole “greening” nonsense is that it is helping to keep me fit.

I spent most of the Easter weekend and some hours since tramping around 162ha trying to determine which hedges, or parts thereof, might qualify as Ecological Focus Areas.

See also: Read more from our arable Farmer Focus writers

I was accompanied in this task by our two golden retrievers. The younger, and very enthusiastic, one thought this was great fun and wondered if rabbit holes would count because she had them all marked.

The older, and much wiser, one shares my view that the whole thing is a farcical waste of time and energy and could we go back home for tea now please?

I am dreading filling out the forms, especially in the format being demanded here, and I am concerned there will be huge potential for error and arguments.

It won’t be an easy task for inspectors either. When, oh when will some common sense prevail?

On a more positive note, farmwork has been progressing well here. The weather has been settled recently, allowing us to get on with plenty of field work. All top dressing and most spraying of winter crops is up to date, with all crops looking healthy and full of potential.

The winter crops are starting to grow well now, but grass growth is still slow. Hopefully that will improve this week with high pressure and better temperatures forecast.

I eventually managed to get hold of another 32ha of arable ground on a five-year agreement, so we have been busy dung spreading, ploughing and drilling spring oats and barley.

I also keep a small herd of 30 purebred Aubrac cows and they have been calving successfully over the past month. They really are low maintenance, as virtually all of them have calved themselves with the calves getting up and suckling pretty quickly.

We have also had two sets of twins, with another set due, which is an unusually high percentage.

So, all in all, I am a reasonably content farmer at the moment – I wonder how long that will last.

Robert Moore

Robert Moore farms on the Molenan Estate in Northern Ireland, where his family have farmed for more than 200 years. He switched to arable production in the late 1990s, away from beef and sheep. He still has a small suckler herd on non-suitable arable land.