FARMER FOCUS:going alone on GMs is worrying

So, our minister thinks we should go it alone with GM crops. I, personally, have a few concerns over this. While I can see the possible agronomic benefits of growing GM crops, there are downsides.

First, like any other business, we produce a product that our customers want to buy. It may have escaped the notice of our minister but our customers don’t want to buy genetically modified food at the moment. Surely this is to our advantage when most of the food produced outside the EU is contaminated with GM.

Second, we will never persuade our customers that we have their best interests at heart if the GM traits introduced just increase the profits of the agricultural industry and don’t offer any benefit to consumers. Finally, if we increase production too quickly the price of commodities will crash and we will struggle to cover our growing costs, especially as support payments drop and input costs spiral ever upwards.

Patience is a virtue, so a week of dry weather has proved very difficult for many to resist the urge to rush out and do something. In fact, after being inactive for so long, it’s easy to forget that it is actually still winter and that soil temperatures are still far too low for any growth. We have now started to cultivate some of the stubbles on the lighter ground in preparation for the spring beans and oats. While we wait for it to dry out and warm up we will finish moving muck out onto the maize ground.

The rebirth of English rugby since Stuart Lancaster took over the role of coach has helped dispel some of the misery of a very grim winter on the farm. Who would have thought that France might end up with the wooden spoon?

Simon Beddows manages 1,000ha of arable land at Dunsden Green, south Oxfordshire. Cropping is cereals, oilseed rape, beans and forage maize

Read more from Simon Beddows

Read more from our Arable Farmer Focus writers