Farmer Focus: Increased paperwork does not help farmers or the environment

It’s been a relatively damp start to 2023. Rain isn’t much fun, but it’s been gratefully received after last year’s dry conditions.

Fingers crossed things dry up heading into mid-February so we can get a good start on the spring workload.

News of increased rates for Countryside Stewardship options for 2024 are promising, especially as I will be looking to start a new scheme at the same time.

See also: New advice on volunteers for tackling flea beetle in OSR

About the author

Matt Redman
Farmer Focus writer
Matt Redman farms 370ha just north of Cambridge and operates a contracting business specialising in spraying and direct-drilling. He also grows cereals on a small area of tenancy land and was Farm Sprayer Operator of the Year in 2014.
Read more articles by Matt Redman

The fact these increases are not being applied to the 2023 scheme is not good news.

There appear to be many people considering whether schemes starting in 2023 should be postponed and re-applied for next year.

Increased loads of paperwork help neither farmers nor the environment in delivering the aims of Countryside Stewardship.

Crops have come through the winter well so far and prospects look good. The current wheat price is a little alarming for what crop remains left in the shed and the new crop at harvest.

It is a morally challenging thing to need, or to hope there is a disaster elsewhere in the world to ensure our own profitability.

It was great to spend a couple of days off farm at LAMMA helping on the National Association of Agricultural Contractors stand, meeting members and catching up with friends.

The show seemed much busier than for a few years, so hopefully other events will also be well attended this year as shows are an important social part of the industry.

Both of my AHDB Monitor Farm meetings this winter have been very well attended. Thank you to those who have taken the time to come along.

My next meeting is probably the one I will find the most personally interesting of the year – machinery and cropping costs.

Rising machinery costs were highlighted rather scarily while walking around LAMMA.

I came across some identical Cambridge rolls to my own advertised for near enough 37% more (including a discount on the RRP) than I paid back in 2018.

Quite an increase for something without complicated components such as an engine or gearbox.

The next few weeks are looking busy, with a few more events, getting machinery ready for spring work, and finishing off hedge cutting before the end of the season.

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