Farmer Focus: Decided against an SFI application

“To SFI or not to SFI, that is the question.” The conspiracy theorists are having a field day with what is being offered in England under the Sustainable Farming Incentive. I can’t see anybody growing wheat with some of the payment options available. 

Is this the elite trying to get rid of us (starve us off while they escape to live on another planet)? 

Will “public money for public goods” end up in an overgrown playground for the urbanite taxpayers? Or will they be so weak on their rubbish diet they’ll be unable to walk a metre, let alone a mile?

See also: How breeders are using methane test in wool-shedding project

About the author

James and Belinda Kimber
Livestock Farmer Focus writers James and Belinda farm 850 commercial and pedigree sheep and 30 pedigree Simmental and Charolais cattle in Wiltshire across 95ha (45ha owned). James also runs a foottrimming business and Belinda has a B&B.
Read more articles by James and Belinda Kimber

In the 1920s, Stalin branded farmers as greedy, self-serving enemies of the state. In the 1930s, millions of Soviets died of starvation.

As for our few little Wiltshire acres, we are already in a stewardship scheme. Contrary to rumours, it is impossible to double claim (as far as I can see), so for now, we will not be making an SFI application. 

The Charollais and Blue Texel ewes started lambing on 19 January and, to date, we haven’t had any Schmallenberg virus. The first commercial bunch only had one cycle with the rams so will be over by the time you read this. 

Owing to fly issues, all the sheep had a late fly spray in mid-September, so hopefully this kept the midges off as well.

The 400 late-March lambing ewes scanned OK, at 189%, with only a few empty, despite having some dogs run around in them a week after the rams came out. They also got out multiple times due to flooding.

In the end, we had to bring them home and 27 of them were missing. We spent a week trying to find them, but with no sightings, we had to assume they were stolen. Police asked for CCTV footage from thousands of acres of arable ground.

Despite a few frosts, the ground conditions weren’t good enough to turn back out after scanning. The turnips cost us a lot to grow, with only 50% utilisation.

Do we plan for a 120-day housed period in future? Outdoors, the sheep took up that much ground, and the fencing took up that much time, I wonder if silage-fed inside and a bit of straw seem like less waste.