Farmer Focus : Mark Ireland 17/12/04

THE BEGINNING of December heralds the Christmas Fayre in our villages of North and South Rauceby. Although only small in size the occasion brings out the best of village life and with everyone working closely together a marvellous sum is always raised for our church funds. What a shame our industry doesn’t seem able to work in the same way.

At about the same time the Soil Association produced a booklet entitled What’s your Poison? with the aim of informing consumers about the type of pesticides conventional farmers are using on their crops. The booklet “informs” pesticides are “designed to kill”, “destroy wildlife” as well as “leaving chemical residues in a quarter of our food”.

Now I have to disclose an interest here and say our farming system is wholly reliant on conventional integrated techniques. But I’m not against organic production. Why does the Soil Association feel that for their own gain they have to smear another sector of their industry?

Morale within agriculture is at a very low level and at times like this we should be pulling together for the good of the whole industry and not promoting scurrilous accusations from within.

The Soil Association should take the advice of their own food and farming director, Helen Browning, who wrote in a recent farmers weekly Talking Point “if farmers want to secure their futures they must start working with each other”.

Back on the farm progress has been steady. We’ve applied compound fertiliser to next year’s beet land and ploughing is under way apart from those fields in the over wintered stubble option of our Countryside Stewardship scheme. Spring barley seed is cleaned and dressed ready to drill in early January assuming weather allows.

May I wish you all a Happy Christmas and a profitable New Year as we enter the brave new world of the single farm payment.