Farmer Focus: New green scheme needs proper funding

Just in time for the 2019 Basic Payment Scheme application, I am pleased to say that all of our land is back at Euston – well, since it never really left.

What I mean to report is that it all appears to be safely back on the form and even better, we are paid up to date

Thanks again to the NFU BPS supremo and the good folks at the Rural Payments Agency for helping with all of that.

Now we just have the small task of working through the 620 land parcels and checking them all off. 

See also: Why cultural control is key to keeping potato blight at bay

We have been privileged to host a couple of Defra visits here in the past month, giving us and our neighbours the opportunity to discuss the issues of the day, including the proposed Environmental Land Management scheme (ELMs) and how it will replace the current schemes.

Hopefully, there will be enough cash in the system to continue all of the good environmental works we have all undertaken over the past few years.

The terminology of public money for public goods seems to be the order of the day. No doubt the interpretation of what is good for the public will vary depending on who you speak to.

One thing is for certain, there won’t be anywhere near enough cash to deliver enough to even scratch the surface of what is needed to protect and enhance our surroundings.

I’m sure it will be down to us as farmers to yet again do more with less. 

On that theme, I think the recent announcement of import tariffs if we leave the EU without a deal demonstrates what the government really think of us – very little – with no protection of our markets from cheap food from around the world. 

Only hypothetical at this present time, but I’m sure it demonstrates what we will face as various trade deals come into force at the end of the transition period. I do hope you are all ready for the challenge.     

Spring 2019 has continued to deliver here, a nice bit of rain in early March to help with reservoir filling, then back to dry, warm days and fantastic seed-beds to allow spring planting to progress well.

It certainly makes a change from last year, so rather than starting to plant at the end of the first week in April, it  looks as if we could well be finished planting those time-sensitive crops by then.

Andrew Blenkiron manages the 4,400ha Euston Estate, south of Thetford. Enterprises include combinable and root crops, plus sugar beet. The estate supports let land, sheep, outdoor pigs, poultry, suckler cows, horses and stewardship.

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