Farmer Focus: NFU conference disappoints

Since returning from the Challenge of Rural Leadership there has been no let-up at home. 

Scanning is up 6% on the year, which has undoubtedly been helped by a kind autumn and winter. We had weaned the lambs a month earlier than normal, which has had the added benefit of helping us finish the lambs up to three months quicker. 

It turns out to have been a good year to do this, as prices have been on a downward trajectory since May last year.

See also: Read more from all the Livestock Farmer Focus writers

Laying project progressing

The house for our 12,000 layers is coming along nicely. The internal system is now complete, the tree planting is on its way and we just have to take care of some final bits. 

The sporadic outbreaks of avian influenza keep reminding me that it continues to be a risk, and we will have to practise enhanced bio security at all times. 

Disappointing NFU conference

Claire and I went to the NFU conference last week, and even though it was as usual an excellently organised event, with high-profile speakers and many opportunities to catch up with others in the industry, we both left disappointed. 

Brexit was obviously the main topic, and there were endless questions, and no answers. 

Those who voted to leave are understandably delighted at the outcome, but I fear they are being seriously naive about the amount of work required to ensure the correct deal for UK agriculture, taking into account trade, labour and future support. 

George Eustice wants us to lead the world in animal welfare, yet there is talk of less support, higher tariffs and non-tariff barriers on exports, but also, more importantly, lower tariffs and non-tariff barriers on imports from around the world. 


The outcome would be less money for our products, more competition from around the world and a less-capable and limited supply of labour to help put our produce in front of the consumer. 

Yet we will face higher costs through our higher standards and no doubt increased environmental protection. 

I don’t wish to be a pessimist, but the “it will all be OK once we’re out of Europe” mantra that seems to be repeated does not fill me with confidence. 

Simon Bainbridge farm a 650ha upland organic farm with 150 suckler cows and 1,500 breeding ewes with his wife, Claire and his parents.  Healthy, maternal livestock and quality feed is a priority.