Farmer Focus: Unite to defend our industry before it’s too late

I think, like every farmer in the UK, and especially those with livestock, we are feeling a little beaten up by the anti-meat and dairy agenda currently floating about in political and social spheres.

Nearly every farmer I speak to is getting more frustrated by the false information regarding livestock sector emissions, when it is already proven that dairying in the UK produces half the average global emissions for each kilo of product.

We have a plentiful supply of rain, unlike a lot of other countries where the specialist crops are grown for plant-based diets here in the UK.

See also: How farmers globally are adapting to survive volatility and climate extremes

Agriculture is bad at pulling together and having one voice and position in situations such as this. This needs to change, and sooner rather than later, otherwise a lot of the wonderful small family businesses will disappear. 

Over the past month I have really focused on input costs, especially feed. We have already bought most of our feed forward, which reduces our exposure to the market currently, but fuel has flown up as well, even before looking at fertiliser for first-cut silage.

We have bought a load of 34.5% nitrogen fertiliser which should cover us for now, and then we will use slurry as best we can to make the most of our on-farm nitrogen.

Listening to Arla and Kite Consulting’s podcast last week, it sounds like there is going to be a dairy shortage.

Australia is now a net importer and New Zealand will struggle to maintain output. Feed costs won’t encourage milk production in the UK or the rest of Europe – milk prices are starting to climb.

The tups are running with the ewes now and, so far, they look to be very busy. The ewes are in great condition, and I am very happy with them.

We sold the last of the pure Swaledales last month, so we now just have Highlander-cross ewes at various stages of breeding towards pure.

Now we are away from the Swaledales, we have even managed 100 ewes straight to terminal this year. Hopefully the weather improves a bit for the rest of the tupping period and then a good scanning result comes in February.