Farmer Focus Arable: Farmers must engage with set-aside campaign, says Robert Law

Last month I referred to the welcome fill-up we were going to receive for our 2009 SFP because of the exchange rate on 30 September.

This month I have seen the flip side of the coin. Last autumn we purchased a large yellow combine for our farms in the Royston area.

This time a similar coloured machine has been acquired for the Nottinghamshire farm. Over the past 12 months prices have risen by over 20% due almost entirely to a weakening pound.

The commonly used yardstick of how many tonnes of wheat it takes to buy something has in the case of our new combine come up with a mind-boggling total.

The old adage “change of month, change of weather” has certainly run true as we turn into November. It has come just in time for our grass reseeds, seed rape, seed turnip crops and slowly emerging cereal crops, but too late for the stubble turnips which will struggle to “bulb up”.

What stubble turnip crops we have will mostly be used to support in lamb ewes over the winter rather than bought in store lambs. At the current steamy store prices it might not be the worst season to miss out on anyway.

This month sees the launch of the “Campaign for the Farmed Environment“, it took a lot of lobbying by the NFU and other farming organisations to persuade Hilary Benn that a voluntary approach was adopted rather than a compulsory one backed up by more cross-compliance, which was favoured by the RSPB.

We all need to get engaged and hit the ground running on this one, as if by June 2012 targets are not being met by the voluntary approach, the clunking fist of cross-compliance will be upon us again in the form of more red tape, inspections and further expense.

For more on the Campaign for the Farmerd Environment click here.

To read more from Robert Law click here, or read what our other arable writers have to say.