Suckler numbers to nosedive

NUMBERS of suckler beef cattle are set to nosedive as a result of CAP reform, latest findings from a recent farmer survey show.

Winter cereal cropping is also likely to slip.

The ADAS Farmers Voice Survey, which quizzed 1800 farmers across the country, shows that the suckler herd is set to fall by 11.6%.

But bigger changes were expected on the hills, with an anticipated cut of 33% in severely disadvantaged areas.

“Such reductions may lead to environmental gain, but farmers will need to ensure that the remaining production is efficient and market focused,” said ADAS.

“These effects may not only affect individuals but have the potential to impact on landscape and employment, key elements of sustainable communities.”

The national cereal crop is also likely to be slightly smaller, with farmers predicted an average decline in the winter area of 3.6%.

ADAS‘ Economist Mark Temple said: “The survey findings demonstrated varying predicted declines in the areas of crops and numbers of livestock, dependent on farmers‘ age.

“For example, the intended decline in winter cereals was greatest among older farmers.

“The converse was true in terms of suckler cow numbers which showed the greatest decrease among the younger age group.”

The study, whose findings will be presented at the Smithfield Show, also revealed that nearly a quarter of all farmers in England and Wales expect their farming practices to change.

And 20% either have no idea what that change will need to be, or think they will have to give up farming completely as uncertainty and pessimism about CAP reform pervades many sections of the farming industry.

James Standen, ADAS Business Consultant said, “The findings of Farmers Voice clearly point to the fact that farmers do not fully understand the implications of CAP reform.

“Information needs to be clarified and disseminated, to ensure that farmers are informed about the implications of the reforms and can plan for the future with confidence.”