Farmer Focus: Beetle-mania and contaminated trailers

As was expected, the new Agriculture Bill has proposed a hard reset for British agriculture – rebalancing the support focus away from food production and towards more abstract notions of ‘public goods’ and ‘natural capital’.

In short, the environmentalists have shouted the loudest and won. Fortunately farm businesses have a reasonable seven-year period to make the difficult choices and diversifications needed for restructuring.

I am concerned there are no funding commitment pledges made for the new ‘environmental land management agreements’. Will these be hopelessly under-resourced?

See also: Analysis: How Michael Gove’s Agriculture Bill will reshape UK farming

Currently 10% of my farmed area is dedicated to wildlife habitats under Higher Level Scheme; what target should I now set? Delinking transition support payments will also be politically toxic with claimants able to access funds for doing virtually nothing.

Mr Gove also ignores the fact that improved environmental credentials here in the UK are easily nullified by degradation elsewhere in the world if food is simply imported from lower-standard countries.

Match-funded crop insurance schemes to help manage price volatility would also have been sensible too.

Beetle-mania

Meeting farmers out and about recently the usual topic of the weather has been pushed off its top slot by ‘beetle-mania’ as field battles with cabbage stem flea beetle in rapeseed crops have raged 24/7.

It really is a sad state of affairs that so many crops have been lost unnecessarily and a bitter pill to swallow that several European countries have been granted derogations to use the very same seed dressings denied here in the UK.

All very predictable, but farmers weren’t listened to – ports will undoubtedly be busy shipping in replacement rapeseed.

We have had a busy September run of grain lorries out-loading from the farm. It is unacceptable that many arrive with notably contaminated trailers because previous tipping destinations refuse to let drivers brush out on site under the pretence of health and safety.

By law every site should provide cleaning sites in the interests of hygiene and traceability.

Can someone also please help design a smartphone app to instantaneously send drivers a set of coherent farm directions electronically instead of the current endless repetitive voice calls and associated postcode mayhem?