Farmer Focus: Time to make farms ready for Brexit unknowns

I can safely say that my local NFU branch has started doing its bit to make sure that our voice is heard about the brave new world we’re entering.

Not one, but two MPs were met and enlightened as to how we feel the future needs to pan out.

Of course we can make our point, emphasise our benefits to the economy and demonstrate a positive attitude to the future, but it is very difficult, indeed nigh on impossible to aim at such a moving target.

See also: Read more from our Arable Farmer Focus writers

There are still far too many questions to be answered before we can even take a stab at how we can help to supply our own market and drive exports.

What we can do is gear up to ensure that we are fit and able to survive the future. To that end we have been analysing and benchmarking our financial performance.

This year, for the first time here at Euston, we have included our figures in the Cambridge University Farm Business survey, a highly informative and useful set of data by which we can monitor our performance against that of others.

The secret with all benchmarking is of course the ability to compare like with like. One of the issues that I constantly feel most challenged with is that with regarding economies of scale.

At what point do you really need a few more horsepower, or even another tractor, a larger capacity harvester or indeed whether to use a contractor or share machinery with a neighbour?

We should all be constantly asking these questions of ourselves, better now than when we are forced to in the future.

Sugar beet harvest

Out on the ground, sugar beet harvest has been progressing well; indeed, since I last wrote results have made a significant step forwards both in terms of yield and sugar content. Who knows, we may get to within 10% of our target yet.

Cereals look to be nicely bedded down for the winter and a fair amount of land is partially ready for the spring. 

With only a few days to go to Christmas let us hope that the RPA has distributed the majority of their presents and that the British shopper has supported the British farmer.

Here’s wishing you all a very happy Christmas and a successful 2017.

Andrew Blenkiron manages the 4,400ha Euston Estate, south of Thetford, Norfolk. 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.