Farmer Focus: Rain sees harvest on hold in Northern Ireland

I am having some difficulty concentrating on writing this time as I am champing at the bit to get on with our harvest, particularly when I see fellow contributors making good progress and even moving into wheat.

We have yet to start anything in this area and nearby arable producers are in much the same position.

I have desiccated some winter barley that should be ready for the combine this week, but with the forecast predicting continual lows brushing past us for next week, I am not confident we will get going.

It is very frustrating as crops look quite well and the later it goes, the more work we will have to get through in a shorter time.

Having farmed here and battled the weather for more than 30 years little surprises me anymore, but I was amazed a few weeks ago to see my neighbour irrigating his potatoes.

See also: Read more from our arable Farmer Focus writers

If he could have had more confidence in the forecast, they would have been well irrigated perfectly naturally the following week.

However, the crop is looking great and I just hope Marks & Spencer (and the public) fully appreciate the amount of investment, work and risk that goes into producing food for an increasingly demanding consumer.

Since my last article, the chancellor has delivered another, rather different, budget.

While I can understand what he is trying to achieve, I do wonder how many politicians fully think their policies through.

As an employer, I would love to be able to pay higher wages and pensions, but my business needs to be earning decent profits to fund that.

Most agriculture sectors are on a downturn and very dependent on EU support, so quite how the chancellor expects a smaller business such as mine to pay out another £80/week to each employee is beyond me.

Surely this sort of policy needs to be related in some way to the price we receive for our produce or the level of profits a business can generate, otherwise it is likely to have the effect of actually putting many good people out of work.

Robert Moore farms on the Molenan Estate in Northern Ireland, where his family have farmed for more than 200 years. He switched to arable production in the late 1990s, away from beef and sheep. He still has a small suckler herd on non-suitable arable land


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