Farmer Focus: Potatoes fail to get off to a good start for Jim Alston

Not being a great fan of all the quangos that have been set up over the past few years, I was pleased to see that they are coming under scrutiny. Not only for their unaccountability, but also the cost, duplication and red tape they create.

But I did not appreciate the BPC, along with only one other out of 1700 to choose from, being cited in the Sunday Times as an example. Not only is the BPC now defunct as it becomes amalgamated to form the new joint levy board, but it is also funded by the industry and not the taxpayer.

This may be because our levies are now to be classed as public funds once they are collected, so creating a mixed purpose and confusion. The reason the BPC was chosen was that it appeared to be at odds with government health policy in promoting chips (an agreed policy), while at the same time there is a government campaign against obesity. A bit like Gordon’s tax policy, 2+2 can equal whatever you need it to equal except 4.

Having not done very well from my own potatoes last year, due to yield and quality problems, this year is not getting off to a great start. While we did complete planting in April, emergence does not show signs that the crop will catch up and with only 1.5mm of May rainfall in north Norfolk, along with recent low night-time temperatures, the prospects are not improving.

Overall, the cereals look well, but with the low rainfall, our spring barley will shortly be showing signs of stress. But that is good isn’t it? If malting barley goes short we will fit in with the government’s alcohol policy. I need a drink.

See more