Farmer Focus: Hopeful for Defra’s cattle passport plans

Fool’s spring or not, corn is in the ground and growing. We drilled Skyfall on some wet potato land and Laureate spring barley on the bad blackgrass lands.

We purposely “roughed” it in so that if we do get some weather, the crops will stand it.

Contrary to every pundit in the industry saying sales of beef would drop off in the new year, the exact opposite has happened.

See also: Cost of living puts pressure on farmgate prices in 2023

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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As I predicted, the cost of living hasn’t seemed to affect the food staples in our diet – beef mince being one of them.

At an average cost of £6.40/kg for “value”, and premium mince getting up towards £9.50/kg, processors don’t have to worry about shifting the expensive cuts. They can just grind up the whole carcass.

This in itself creates demand in an overstretched market, so we are a whisker off £5/kg deadweight…. let’s see who breaks ranks first.

I have been asked by Defra to be involved with the rollout of a paperless passport system, which is long overdue. The current system is 24 years old and is antiquated.

With a combination of electronic tags and new software, it will be easier to collect data, so the system will do everything the paper one does and more, in a fraction of the time.

A bucket file can just be picked and dumped, with the cattle information moving seamlessly from calf to feeder to processor.

The whole cattle management system can also be simplified as there is a raft of old EU rules that are no longer relevant.

New, more farmer-friendly rules can be drawn up under our own sovereignty – a nice little benefit brought on by Brexit.

Yes, there will be resistance to change, and a certain demographic will find it hard work, but Defra has done its homework, and is genuinely interested in change for the better.

This will make the industry more efficient and take the admin burden off the farmer.