Farmer Focus: Agriculture bears brunt of changing weather

From the start of the 2023/24 season, all that seems to have happened is that I’ve dug myself into a deeper and deeper hole.

I have no option but to keep battling on as I need grain, forage and utmost straw to run a feedlot, servicing in the region of 4,000 finishing cattle a year.

Yes, I could buy in feed and co-products, but the economics works better for the feedlot and customer if the vast majority is home grown. Straw at £100/tonne does not stack up at all.

See also: Opinion: Straw prices are giving me heart palpitations

About the author

Doug Dear
Livestock Farmer Focus writer
Doug Dear farms 566ha (1,400 acres) of arable land growing wheat, spring and winter barley, maize and oilseed rape and runs a custom feedyard, contract-finishing about 2,400 cattle a year near Selby, North Yorkshire. Most cattle are finished over 90-120 days for nine deadweight outlets, as well as Selby and Thirsk markets.
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The mental strain weighing down on the industry is palpable.

The only way I’ve stayed semi-sane is talking to my mate Neil and “cussing” everything up hill and down dale, and laughing about it all in the end.

It doesn’t matter which sector you’re in, it has been brutal.

I feel for anyone that has had to lamb through this, tend to outdoor pigs, plant potatoes… the list goes on.

We have just finished a monumentally challenging spring drilling season.

It was a seat-of-the-pants operation, dodging wet holes. We still haven’t got the maize drilled at time of writing.

On numerous occasions, we nearly buried the Challenger. The problem we have with that machine is we have nothing bigger to rive (force) it out with.

We are all sick of what seems like “Operation Popeye” (the classified US mission to extend the monsoon season over the Ho Chi Minh Trail).

Weather patterns are changing, but as a result of climate change. Agriculture is bearing the brunt of it, and eventually the population will, when food becomes scarce.

I would say that we have gone well past the tipping point of mitigating weather extremes, and if these weather events continue on regular four-year cycles, we must review our cropping practices – what we grow and when.

I noticed the recent EU delegation to the UK had a meeting with George Monbiot.

At least one positive I can draw of late, and a benefit of Brexit, is not having to take farming advice from him unlike the rest of the EU 27.