Farmer Focus: Philip Bradshaw judges Essex County Farms Competition

My thanks to everyone who contacted me after my fall from the tractor last month. I believe I’m now fully recovered and I’ve been touched by the concern, sympathy – and humour.

I thoroughly enjoyed three days helping to judge the Essex County Farms Competition in late June, assisting David Fountain in the “Large Farms” class.

The organisation and stewarding was top notch, and the hospitality and welcome from all concerned superb. However, we faced a massive challenge in choosing a winner.

All six entries had won their local farms competitions to gain a place in the county final, and we saw some extremely well run farms.

Ultimately, after considerable thought and some debate, we awarded first place in an incredibly close contest to H J Fairs and Son from Great Tey, near Colchester. Congratulations to them on an excellent and well presented business.

It was with great regret that I couldn’t attend the recent sugar beet meeting at Whittlesey, initially organised by Oliver Walston and hosted superbly by the Easton family.

The gathering of nearly 300 growers holding about 15% of the UK beet quota, with many more of us pledging support despite our absence, is a fantastic achievement.

I only hope that British Sugar can accept that so many growers will not carry on producing for a minimum of £24/adjusted tonne.

The more I consider my options for next year the less inclined I feel to plant, and there are hundreds in the same position – the future of the sugar beet industry really is in the balance.

We have just tried cutting some Castille oilseed rape. Unfortunately it wasn’t quite fit and we had to pull out after a hectare or so. The delay does, however, give us a chance to finish off some last minute preparations for harvest.

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