It has been a surreal month since I last wrote an article. Apart from the odd conference call, the diary is a complete whiteout which at least means I have knuckled down to farm work and kept busy.
Social distancing comes naturally to those of us spending long days in tractor cabs.
Forage maize has been planted in good time and is up in rows. We are trying to establish more maize using minimum tillage which definitely gives a more stable, resilient seed-bed.
Pewsey Vale scored big in the catchy game of “rain roulette” with two bouts of 40mm helping to evenly establish spring cropping, which now looks promising.
On a personal level, to immense relief, all members of my family who had coronavirus symptoms have fully recovered and the farm team remain in good health.
For me the only lasting souvenir has been not recovering my sense of smell. This came in handy when we were clearing out the slurry pit!
Mistakes will always happen and unfortunately we had an incident recently when AdBlue was put in the wrong fuel tank causing significant engine damage to a tractor.
Please remind your teams to never top up this additive while the engine is running, and that even a tiny misplaced quantity in the fuel line will cause problems. Thanks to TH Whites for sorting us out.
The decimation of the wider economy by lockdown measures is truly horrifying and will have repercussions for a generation.
I can understand why some have asked whether the cure is worse than the disease. A primary concern for agribusiness is how on earth will this be paid for?
Beyond income and VAT taxation adjustments I would suggest this is a good time for families to have frank discussions about farm succession; changes to Agricultural Property Relief seem likely when the government weighs up radical land and property taxation options.
Time is running out for a post-Brexit trade deal with the EU. Simultaneously discussions continue for a free trade deal with the US for which the main danger is that ongoing food supply disruption is used as an excuse to flood markets with cheap imports, leaving our own production standards undermined.
With one voice the industry must apply maximum pressure to ensure this never happens.