Like many farmers across Wales and indeed the whole of the UK, we have still not received our single farm payment, nor have we been informed when – or if – we will get paid.
Many people that have been paid have had to deal with deductions or penalties for over-declaring forage area.
In Wales we have previously claimed grazed woodland as eligible area, but for 2015 we had to remove this from our claim – something I’m told English farmers have not had to do.
Problems have not been helped by those authorising the claims incorrectly. A considerable number of appeals have now been submitted to the Welsh Assembly Government, which can only add further delay to payments.
Last month we had our Farm Assurance inspection, and I am pleased to say we passed with no non-conformities.
Our first lambs of the year have arrived, not in any great numbers but enough to get us into a routine and to stock up on the lambing essentials.
All lambs are still inside, and that’s just as well as storm Imogen is causing havoc outside. Our ground is totally saturated, so it’s good that a lot of our sheep are housed – the winter storms have been relentless and very unseasonably warm.
The hill ewes are getting silage on stone pads, with high-energy licks available. We are waiting for the scanner to come and scan these April-lambing ewes.
I was very fortunate to have been asked to sit on the judging panel for the NSA Next Generation Ambassador programme, a scheme to support the future of the sheep industry through young people. We had the difficult task of selecting 12 from 17 young people that had been shortlisted from the various regions.
Applicants from all over the country were interviewed over Skype and I was truly stunned at the levels of enthusiasm and optimism for the future of the sheep industry in the UK. Congratulations and good luck to those selected.
On a final note, we have had a new Blue Merle puppy, Bertie. The boys think he is great. We will have to wait and see just how great a sheepdog he turns out to be.
Mark and Helen Williams run 1,000 ewes and 40 suckler cows across 283ha of part-owned and rented land in Welshpool, Powys