This Week in Farming: Dodgy IT, payroll tips and cheap quads

Hello and welcome to This Week in Farming, your weekly catch-up on the best content from Farmers Weekly.

Here’s five of the biggest topics that we’ve covered in the past seven days and a look ahead to what’s coming up in the next edition of the podcast.

Defra IT woes

There’s been heavy scattered showers across the country this week and a few storms in Westminster as well as the House of Commons’ Public Accounts Committee choosing to heavily criticise Defra’s “outdated, inefficient and expensive” IT systems.

Defra and its related organisations handle about 14m transactions a year that still involve paper forms. This, the committee says, makes them “inefficient and expensive”.

Speaking of online applications, if you haven’t yet submitted your Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) application, you only have until midnight on 15 May to do so without incurring a penalty.

The 2023 scheme year will be the final one for BPS in England, before it is replaced with delinked payments from 2024 onwards.

Food Summit latest

Senior representatives from across the food chain will be descending on Downing Street next Tuesday (16 May) after prime minister Rishi Sunak summoned them to a Food Security Summit.

Expectations for the event are low as it follows hot on the heels of a decision by Defra to scrap plans for a horticulture strategy for England – which growers say shows a frustrating lack of ambition for the vital sector.

In my editorial, this week I pose as a fly-on-the-wall at the forthcoming meeting, as well as asking what the prime minister would need to do to show he was taking fairness in the food chain seriously.

Rule reminder: Payroll

Whether you’re a farm employee who wants to know what they’re entitled to or a business owner who wants some tips on staying on top of payroll issues, this useful piece is a great starting point.

Find out here what the rate for paternity pay is, when you are exempt from paying national insurance and much more.

Long-standing frustrations with the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme were aired again this week at a House of Lords inquiry into the challenges facing the horticulture sector.

Workers from 60 countries came to the UK to help with the harvest last year, but one expert says that a narrowing in focus of countries could help businesses here, including making language and cultural support easier.

Rise of the Chinese off-roaders

We’ve been fed a steady diet of Japanese and other quad bikes for a long time, but what can China offer?

That’s the question the machinery team set out to answer this week as they take a detailed look at CF Moto’s UTV and ATV offerings, a relatively new manufacturer on the scene over here.

Take a look at what sort of UTV £12,500 will buy you, or the £5,749 ATV right here.

And if there’s any Suzuki Jimny fans out there with money burning a hole in their pocket, then aftermarket conversion specialist Twisted Automotive would like a word with you.

It has chosen the spritely commercial-spec two-seater for its performance treatment, having previously only focused on the classic Land Rover Defender.

Back to dog-and-stick farming?

Such luxuries may be beyond the reach of many, however, if there are hard times ahead, warns veteran columnist David Richardson.

In his final missive before departing, he warns that a return to low-cost dog-and-stick farming may be in order to ride out the high input costs and volatile returns that are currently being experienced.

If pig-and-board farming is more your scene then take a look at how outdoor producer Amy Chapple achieved a contract with a London-based retailer by switching to a soya-free ration.

The diet was introduced two years ago when she moved away from a standard pig feed. The ration consists of barley, wheat, beans, peas and rapeseed meal.

FW podcast

Don’t forget to tune into the latest edition of the Farmers Weekly podcast with Johann Tasker and Hugh Broom.

This week, they’ll be reacting to what was said at the latest Farmers Weekly Question Time event as well as picking apart the latest farming news.

Listen to the podcasts via our website or take them with you in the cab by downloading it from your usual podcast platform.

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