Farmer Focus: New year subsidy plan must focus on production

It has been a long slog politically, and here at Osgodby Grange, six weeks of hard work have gone into providing the Christmas kill.

I really hope the general public appreciate what the British farmer and grower does to make sure their festive season goes without a glitch, but probably not.

There was a very real threat of running out of food and facing shortages when all those trucks were parked on Manston airfield in Kent. An event in which shelves were empty would have forced the public to value food more and grasp the concept of seasonality.

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Two-thirds of my business is unsupported by subsidies. That’s not to say we won’t miss the support payments, because we will, but as a business we are already making decisions now for the much-reduced payment in 2024.

We will have to get more efficient, invest in machinery and power to reduce cultivation passes, improve crop yields, finish cattle faster with fewer inputs and look at other sources of income outside of farming.

In other words, this farm will aim for all-out production. We will not be messing about digging ponds and laying hedges – a profitable farm is a healthy farm.

There are going to be three types of farmers who deal with this challenge; those who watch things happen, those who make things happen, and those who wondered what the heck happened.

As of 1 January, we have become a sovereign nation again. I don’t know whether it was a win, lose or draw with the European Union, but at least we have certainty, and can now make sensible decisions about investment and future projects.

Now that we aren’t restrained by the shackles of the EU, I think it is time to look at genetic modification again – or at least gene editing – and lift British agriculture out of the Dark Ages.

This country has the chance to become a high-speed, low-drag operation, so let’s hoist the Jack, play Elgar’s Land of Hope and Glory from the treetops and celebrate our new-found freedom. #flytheflag

Doug Dear is a Farmer Focus writer from Yorkshire. Read his biography