Thankfully we are now entering a milder spell of weather, which is a welcome change from the snow and ice. As the hard frosts give way, so have many sections of stone wall. This only adds to the list of winter jobs the snow has so far stifled.
All of last year’s lambs have gone now apart from the usual consignment of dodgers that we end up with every year. The ewes are generally in good condition, with the first scan taking place at the end of the month.
Prices have remained good this year for the sheep sector. According to Caroline Spelman, prices will have to continue to increase so that we can gradually move away from direct subsidies. However, in my mind there is a limit to where these prices can go. With figures stating the number hungry in the world has virtually doubled since 1974, I doubt this worrying trend is going to be stemmed if food prices rise in the future.
If direct payments are reduced then there is little protection to farm income from likely fluctuations in market prices. One other factor, that people do not realise, is all those companies relying on agriculture for their income. You only to look at the list of firms attending LAMMA 2011, and they only represent the tip of the iceberg.
For us, without payments such as SFP those companies can say goodbye to our custom for such things as new tractors, feeding systems, buildings etc. Yes we are subsidised, but that money goes much further than the farmers who receive it. I only hope the government bodies do not lose sight of this.