Farmer Focus: Hedge rules show red tape continues   

The May ultra-marathon is complete. I can’t thank my team enough.

The highlight was taking on an extra 53ha with a day’s notice and getting it drilled up from scratch.

We drilled 242ha of maize, spread 8,000t of muck, got through a firefighting wheat fungicide programme, did first-cut silage in house, and put one shed up and took another one down.

Fallow has been limited to 5% out of 728ha. Now, I’m not saying that what we have got drilled is pretty, but I’ll take that as a massive win for this season.

See also: How a Wiltshire-based mechanic built his own hedgecutter

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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Hearing a few years ago that the Basic Payment Scheme was reducing did not bother me. I want to build a more resilient business myself and be free to farm, rather than being controlled by government payments.

However, turning hedge cross compliance into law (no cutting between 1 March and 31 August and 2m margins) has ensured the bureaucracy continues.

I must stress, I have not pulled out any hedges, and I am not against wildlife corridors.

I’m sure I’ll get plenty of stick for this comment, but I’m not the sort of person who ploughs around stumps, either metaphorically or in real life.

I don’t have the interest or the time for the hassle of deciding when a hedge is a hedge, a gap a gap, for counting trees, and figuring out if you own both sides or not.

Apparently, leaving farmers to their own devices is not a “good look”. I think making a bigger sacrifice such as planting a wet corner to link up hedges would be better than legislating every inch of hedging.

It’s the thin end of the wedge as we face a possible regime change and Sir Keir Starmer in number 10.

Starmer has already said he prefers Davos and the World Economic Forum (WEF) to Westminster. I don’t think it will be a “good look” to be dictated to by Klaus Schwab and his WEF colleagues.

If comments like these make me a dinosaur, I will have some tyrannosaurus rex shirts to sell at Groundswell, right next to Andy Caton (the musician/DJ-turned regenerative farmer who is telling us how to farm) and next to the Groove Armada stand. Sales may be poor.