Farmer Focus: Had enough of bad weather and soya warriors

If you added up all the work we’ve done twice this season, we‘d be some operation. The last wheat we drilled after forage maize emerged and then got flooded, so it was more or less a write-off.

Bizarrely, the trade says wheat production is only going to be 1% down. Are they completely mad?

As we stand today, I am 30% down on last year, and unless we can blast some Skyfall in the new year, that figure might get even worse.

See also: Record high cattle prices supported by tight supply

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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I’m losing interest in growing wheat at £170/t. Unless demand for new crop and the possible downgrading of world wheat stocks picks up, I expect that we will be stuck at this price level.

It’s been non-stop cattle processing here. Christmas kill is well under way, and all staff have been needed to keep up with entries and exits. Trade has held up well and supply is too tight for that to change.

We have taken some hard knocks (literally) clipping cattle this season, with cuts, bruises and blunt trauma. We really need some joined-up thinking on this. I supply eight different processors on a regular basis.

One processor complains all the time about mucky cattle, and at the other extreme there is one we don’t clip at all for.

It’s not even the vet that’s moaning, it’s the factory manager complaining because clipping cattle slows the line down. 

Anyone complaining about the job we do should lend us a hand for the day. They might decide that clipping cattle isn’t a good idea.

The best model we have is at ABP, York, where they charge me a nominal fee to clip them on the processing line. It’s so much better for man and beast. 

UK beef is continuing to be knocked by Attenborough and the likes. My term is “ill-informed soya warrior”.

It doesn’t matter what system you are on – pasture for life or cereal-finishing in a custom-fed yard – the basic principles are the same.

We are taking a product and feeding it with grass, net-zero forage crops and by-products that can’t be used by humans, and producing high-quality protein that contributes towards a balanced diet.

We must stop blaming climate change on beef production when there’s no slowing the leisure industry.