Farmer Focus: CAP reform clear as mud

The weather has been very wet for the past month, making building work on the new shed not too pleasurable.

Thankfully the concrete base was put down first, so at least it is not a mud bath. The portal frames are both erected, the slurry tanks are all shuttered and one building is slatted. 

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By the time you read this, hopefully the roof and outside walls will be finished, letting us progress with the feeding and ventilation system. The weaners due to move in between Christmas and the New Year, will probably have to skip past the new build straight into the finishing building, which gives us a few weeks to complete the project. All I pray for now is no snow until the roof is finished.

Pig prices are falling at a time of year when we would expect a pre-Christmas rise. There must either be a glut of pig meat or the processors have forward bought a lot of product to keep the price in their favour. Whatever the reason, we don’t want the fall to continue, but unfortunately farmers don’t have much say the in the price of what we sell or much negotiating power to get a reasonable price for what we have to purchase – it is a strange industry.

Still on the subject of mud, the CAP reform in Scotland is just about as clear, although with many NFU meetings on the subject it is turning slightly clearer, but remains far from crystal. The 5% greening is a bugbear of mine. I don’t object to grass margins next to water courses to help the water quality and give the wildlife a bit of peace and quiet, and of course, keeping me on the right side of cross compliance. But when I need to take land out of production when my pigs need to be fed and parts of the world are hungry, it goes against my farming ethics.

Never mind, Christmas is just about here. Santa might come and New Year will bring the usual challenges, but I must be grateful for my health and for the fact that I am working in an industry I enjoy. Wishing everyone a happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year. danny@skinnerinsch.freeserve.co.uk

Danny Skinner farms 440 sows selling finished pigs through Scottish Pig Producers. He runs 125ha at home and rents a further 50ha, growing cereals for home mixing