Jolyon Higgs in the grip of red tape blues

Paperwork and bureaucracy are driving many farmers to desperation at this busy time of year. We are told it is going to be reduced by red-tape-busting committees. From the farmers point of view nothing of the sort is happening.

Two examples currently occupy my time when I should be out on the farm.

As reported in my last piece, farmers in Wales have been asked to undertake a “remapping exercise”. Nearly all fields at Cwmfron have been re-measured (fair enough) and then an office worker has looked at the latest digital images and decided what ineligible features we have on the farm.

We have spent years informing the Assembly Government of every bit of bracken, scree, stump, road, etc, that we have down to the last 0.01ha. Many of the features we have informed them about are not caught by this technology and we will have to inform them again that they exist and replace them on our single application form. What a waste of time and money. Some of the higher-ranking civil servants who think up this rubbish should get out on a farm and see the results of what they are doing.

Second, the hoggs recently returned from wintering, sporting their new electronic tags. We approached the first 150 with our new expensive scanner and, aside from three who had managed to lose their tag, we found nine tags that could not be read. This after only six months in the ear. What happens when we sell them as five year old brokers?

I am going outside now to take a deep breath and enjoy the rain that has at last broken the long dry spell that allowed us to lamb in near perfect weather and cut early silage on Gower.

Jolyon Higgs and family farm 130ha in Llanidloes, mid Wales. His wife Alex and son Tom help at her parent’s 200ha arable and grassland farm, 90 miles away on the Gower. Jolyon keeps 20 suckler cows, finishing the progeny for Dovecote Park. He keeps a closed flock of 600 ewes, producing prime lambs for Waitrose as well as light continental-type lambs.

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