Farmer Focus: What would Dragons’ Den think of my farm?

Do you support direct action or not? It’s a difficult question, and the answer possibly depends on where you live now UK agriculture is devolved.

I think the English Sustainable Farming Incentive and productivity grants seem to be very generous, providing you either want to produce food more efficiently, or you’re not that bothered about food production.

The proposed Welsh Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS) seems disjointed at best and divisive at worst.

See also: Opinion: Welsh SFS plans take a toll on farmers’ mental health

About the author

James and Belinda Kimber
Livestock Farmer Focus writers James and Belinda farm 850 commercial and pedigree sheep and 30 pedigree Simmental and Charolais cattle in Wiltshire across 95ha (45ha owned). James also runs a foottrimming business and Belinda has a B&B.
Read more articles by James and Belinda Kimber

I haven’t found any studies exploring business models of farms that don’t claim under the SFS. State support means jumping through more hoops.

The media talks to crazy vegans, delusional environmentalists and farmers who are passionate but don’t come across very well.

We need public speaking and media relations training. Getting a clear and consistent message over concisely is important.

I think public understanding of food production is limited and the opinions range from “Oh, farmers work hard” to “Farmers poison the planet”.  

Had I gone to the bank last year expecting lambs to lift 40%, partly because a small East African tribe was going to attack ships and it was going to rain a lot, I would have been laughed at. Long may strong trade continue, but how do you plan?

Anyone that thinks they have a good business should present it to Dragons’ Den or The Apprentice and see how far it goes.

At time of writing, we have 180 ewes lambed, but they are still indoors. We have no dry fields.

Once the main bunch start lambing at the end of March, we will fill every space quickly, so we hope a lovely spring is coming so we can start turning them out (another optimistic one for Dragons’ Den).  

My foot-trimming days are over. A kick on the knee left me unable to stand around the crate all day. An MRI scan showed the cartilage at the back of my kneecap had shattered.

I recently met a chap at Carlisle market who was involved in the Royal Show in the halcyon days of the 1970s and early 1980s, when I first exhibited Ayrshire cows as an overenthusiastic child.

It reminded me of the passion we need to farm. I hope we can all maintain that passion.