Farmer Focus: Richard Thomas

ANOTHER BOOKLET arrives from DEFRA detailing the latest rules to prevent the rape of the countryside by modern farming.

I am at a complete loss to understand how anybody with the slightest understanding of rural issues could have dreamed up such a convoluted and ridiculous scheme.

 With the fairly intensive land use in west Cornwall, a number of producers are considering not registering for single farm payment. They will carry on farming in similar ways to their regulated neighbours. But they will not be bogged down by the box ticking and point scoring that will reduce the effectiveness of the farming businesses, for which we will be compensated.

We have a rotation of potatoes, cauliflower, maize, cereals and then grass for normally more than five years. The cauliflower crop is grown by other producers. So we are still coming to terms with the implications of the new rules on our system. Just to further complicate matters we also rent land for one crop of potatoes.

 If we as an industry are to be competitive in a world market, why burden us all with 8% set aside and all the other nonsense? Don”t all the farm assurance schemes have measures which promote food production that is safe and environmentally friendly?

 By using the same organisation for beef and dairy assurance, I manage to save a few quid and half a day. However, I recently failed to comply with the necessary standards for the beef scheme. Was it because of a heinous breach of movement records or maybe a shocking failure of medicine handling? No, it was not being a member of the National Register of Sprayer Operators.

 This was not a necessity for Assured Produce and my 80ha (200 acres) of potatoes, but vital for producing safe and healthy beef cattle. I just managed to bite my lip while the auditor complained about the amount of paperwork involved in his job now.

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