Recently the RSPB contacted me congratulating my management of the cliff headland, as new chough chicks had hatched on Rathlin Island. It is nice to receive praise rather than the negative that farmers usually get from organisations of this type.
On the farm it was great to see the return of the Irish hare as I saw four running across the field together, a sight I have not witnessed for 30 years – when there were so many about they used to be a pest.
It would be great to think that this was a direct result of the Countryside Management Scheme, a useful scheme for NI farmers who care about the environment. Unfortunately, this scheme seems to be running out of money, as once the farmer’s 10-year agreement is up there is no provision for them to re-enter. I would suggest funding should be redirected from other rural development projects, which seem to struggle to get enough applications.
Last night, after attending an Ulster Farmers Union (UFU) policy meeting, it is clear that the CAP budget looks set to be cut. It is also clear to me that the biggest issue our unions will have is defining the criteria for an active farmer, as Europe seems to agree that funding should be made in that direction. Also, I would wish the UFU all the best as they make plans for an Open Farm Saturday in Northern Ireland.
With the inclement weather, sheep clipping has just been completed a full six weeks later than normal. One small positive about the cold June we have had is that we haven’t had to treat any sheep for blowfly strike as I think the flies have not realised winter has ended yet. Hopefully, temperatures will rise to improve grass growth.
farmer focus, livestock: victor chestnutt