FARMER FOCUS: Looking to a busy month ahead

There is a massive amount going on at the moment – CAP reform details to discuss, rural development pillar 2 money to grab, decisions on the pricing of sugar beet and a harvest to get on with.

All, including harvest, have solutions that will no doubt involve a phenomenal amount of effort, so let’s hope we are rewarded for our endeavours. The solution to harvest is the one we know the best and is fairly obvious – lots of hard work, late nights and a bit of luck with the weather.

The second involves the sugar growers sticking together, not something that we as an industry have a very good record of. That being said, all indications are that there is a determination to hold out for a higher forward price, I do hope this time we can all get behind NFU Sugar and pledge our support.

The solution to the pillar two money probably involves shouting the loudest. To that end I have started, with others, to engage with DEFRA and the local LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership) to get our fair share. I really do wonder if there will be much worth fighting for after the new stewardship schemes have been funded, but we need to be at that table to ensure we get hold of as much of those modulated funds as possible.

The final challenge of this months’ list is to ensure English farmers achieve something remotely similar to the amount our European neighbours will realise from the reform package. The real spat that is emerging between the recently formed Fair Deal for English Farmers farming alliance and DEFRA secretary Owen Paterson probably says it all.

I would urge you all to contact your MP and get he/she to give Mr Paterson some immense grief over what we need to gain from this overcomplicated, non-simplified mishmash (I could use many words here, but I doubt they would be printed) of a CAP reform. It really is beyond me how those involved in long-term farming can provide food to feed a nation and care for the environment with such short-term political interferences.

Andrew Blenkiron manages the 4,400ha Euston Estate, south of Thetford. Principal farm enterprises are combinable and root crops, including sugar beet. In addition the estate supports let land, sheep, outdoor pigs, poultry, suckler cows, horses and stewardship

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