Steve Bumstead

15 February 2002

Steve Bumstead

Steve Bumstead farms

148ha (365 acre) from

Ouse Bank Farm, Great

Barford, Beds. He is a first

generation farmer and

council tenant, growing

combinable crops on three

blocks of land. He supports

LEAF and is the FWAG

county treasurer

THE way our government acts against farming and quality home food production really does give me the impression that the lunatics have taken over the asylum. We are not the only ones drawing taxpayers money. Amongst others, the politicians who damn us do too!

I would like to suggest to the overtaxed public that we farmers give much greater value for that money than one or two MPs that I could mention, especially those that swan off to far-flung warm climes while the public transport and health systems crumble.

The recently published Curry report really is a curates egg – good in parts, rotten and distasteful in others. Its findings fall wide of the mark, not least in its failure to recognise that farmers need a viable and sustainable business income to deliver the goodies it so eagerly suggests.

In my view, it is a waste of time and taxpayers money. Too many irrelevant single-issue groups were given a platform and hi-jacked the consultancy phase, aiming to further their own blinkered causes. If you read the report carefully you will notice it plays to the gallery – the Blair government and its supporters.

My biggest disappointment so far this year is the paltry £40/ha (£16/acre) payment offered for the over-winter stubble followed by spring-sown crop option of the new Countryside Stewardship Scheme. It is just not enough. Ironically, when I was consulted informally by MAFF I suggested £40/acre. Perhaps they misheard me!

This penny pinching attitude of DEFRA is very unfortunate because this was one scheme I wanted to take up, but the sums just dont add up. Another great opportunity for biodiversity and conservation lost.

With all this wet weather, fieldwork is at a standstill. We did manage to get some Xi19 wheat drilled before the end January. The seed-bed was not ideal, but at least the seed was covered and at not too great a depth. Fingers crossed for quick emergence then some frosty weather to aid vernalisation. &#42

£40/ha just isnt enough for the new spring crop option of Countryside Stewardship, says Steve Bumstead.

See more