Farmer Focus: Welsh border farms bottom of RPA pile

Good news at last. We have received 80% of our single farm payment.

We also have fewer than 20 sheep in the shed to lamb and the weather has improved now the hill ewes are lambing.

The Welsh government has paid 95% of applicants. About half the remaining claims have complicated issues to resolve and the other half are cross-border farmers.

It seems that the English RPA have put these Welsh border farms to the bottom of the pile. 

The Welsh government has verified the Welsh land for payment, but are waiting for the RPA to authorise and send the paperwork across to the Welsh government so they can make the payment. 

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To me this seems an unnecessary burden and should be dealt with by one payment agency or the other.

Lambing has gone well for us, the weather improved in March and the ground has dried. 

It is the first time we have made use of our EID reader, tagging and recording all lambs at birth.

I thought it would be a lot of effort, but have been pleasantly surprised at how little work it was.

It will be interesting to see which breed and age of ewe performs the best and which tups produce the best lambs. It is a learning curve for us, but we are getting the hang of it. 

See also: Forage appeals delay single farm payments

The farm management programme says we have a lambing percentage of 192% – I am guessing that includes the ones that have died.

It also tells us that we have a 5% loss rate, a figure we are very pleased with, as usually it would be double this. I’m sure something will come along and spoil it.

Grass growth is still slow, although things are greening up.

Fertiliser application is top of the list of jobs to do. I don’t think we would have gained much by applying an earlier dressing, as it has been cold with some heavy frosts. 

We have our annual TB test this week, which is also now a contiguous test. It has gone around the area and it is our turn to get it, fingers and toes crossed we go clear.

Mark and Helen Williams run 1,000 ewes and 40 suckler cows across 283ha of part owned and rented land.