Farmer Focus: Will those in power listen to farmers’ pleas?

Last month I wrote about the shelter offered by barley planted to protect beet seedlings from the dry blowing sand.

I did include the caveat with the word ‘if’ in place of ‘when’ the soils become dry enough to blow.

The issue now is that with the barley up and growing away, how well is the beet drill going to cope with planting into a strong cover crop? Assuming it dries out enough to travel.

See also: Farmer Focus: Blunt BPS cap would penalise tenant farmers

It’s nothing new, being behind in the spring. Yet again this year has only served to demonstrate the risks that we take in farming, the challenges that nature throws our way and the costs that we incur in working in harmony with the environment. 

I do hope you all appreciate how hard I had to think to get that segue (I had to look the spelling of that word up) into the Health and Harmony consultation paper. 

Poor practice

Please make sure that you at least have a go at personally responding to it; plenty of others will, and no doubt with different opinions to farmers. 

While I appreciate that the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) should be blamed for some of the poor practice the last generation have been forced to implement, I do question who produced and implemented those policies? 

Did they pay attention to farmers or did they ignore our pleas? I hope they pay attention this time.

I do take issue with some of the foreword to the Health and Harmony paper. Indeed I regard it as an insult to suggest that talent and innovation have been held back by the CAP. If they have been, might it instead be a result of the drive to supply ever cheaper food, regardless of the true cost?  

If we really want to develop a plan that will provide affordable food produced to higher welfare and environmental standards, while increasing productivity, I suggest that someone will have to get their hands in their pockets and pay for it.

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.