Opinion : 14/01/05

Take care to preserve SFP

Nobody likes being told what to do, especially when it comes to money.

Maybe that’s why two-thirds of farmers in a bank survey are planning to include their single farm payment when calculating farm business profitability, as our Business Section explains. Perhaps they are fed up of being told that their SFP must be decoupled and not used to support a struggling enterprise. But that’s not so easy when that business is your life.

Nevertheless, the SFP is a significant step closer to farming without support. With careful planning and shrewd investment it could be the catalyst to ensure future viability.

How effective is your tagging?

EU inspectors will visit the UK this spring to investigate our sheep tagging and traceability systems.

Much is at stake. A clean bill of health and the UK will be able to continue with its system of single tagging and batch movement recording until electronic ID is introduced in 2008.

A less than favourable outcome and we could be forced to adopt the more burdensome EU system from July 2005 based on double tagging. The onus is on farmers, as well as dealers, hauliers and exporters, to ensure they respect the current UK system.

So, the complex tagging arrangements recently introduced in Northern Ireland are less than helpful.

Make the most of drenches

Drenching; are you doing it right? Like many farm skills, it’s one handed down the generations. But is tradition always the best teacher?

Simple tips, such as drenching to the weight of the heaviest sheep and ensuring the drench gun delivers the correct amount of drench can improve effectiveness on some units.

New drenches are unlikely to be available for 10 years and with triple wormer resistance spreading, steps now to improve anthelmintic lifespan are more than worthwhile.

Manage water, hold on to cash

Water: The essence of life; until you get too much of it. Then it can cause havoc.

Nowhere is that more true than in the livestock sector where grazing livestock have faced submerged forage crops and muddy fields.

With new cross-compliance rules it’s vital to ensure stock are able to graze, grow and thrive without damaging the environment.

A few simple steps could help safeguard livestock profits and the single farm payment.

A new defence for your barley

A warm welcome for the new triazole cereal fungicide Proline (prothioconazole). It promises a realistic alternative to long-standing market leader in wheat, Opus (epoxiconazole).

Its outstanding activity against barley diseases could encourage growers to stick with the crop which, under CAP reform, promises only borderline profitability. Let’s hope the price is right and demand can be satisfied.

Other cheaper, less-effective fungicides could be in short supply because of soya bean rust in the USA.

Enough supplies of this exciting new chemistry should be found to help UK growers defend against diseases on this side of the Atlantic. Without, that is, prices spiralling up.

Practical advice on EU openings

Could farming in France be the key to unlock your farming future? Perhaps you”re interested in farming opportunities in former Eastern Bloc countries?

The place to find answers is farmers weekly’s free seminar Agriculture in Europe: New Fields of Opportunity to be held at the SIMA Paris Show at 2pm on Feb 28.

It’s your opportunity to quiz the men that know about the practicalities and pitfalls of continental farming. See News for more details.

Who floats your dreamboat?

Some people are big fans. Others keep their heads down.

Love it or loathe it, Valentine’s Day is one occasion to give extra thought to that special someone in your life, or that person who you wish was your special someone. Farmlife wants to hear from readers who their dream Valentine would be, and why. It might be your other half; it might be someone you admire from afar.

Whoever it is, tell us and you could win a super prize, plus we’ll publish some of your best letters in the run up to the big day – Feb 14.