This Week in Farming: Jail sentence, campaign ‘win’ and work balance

Hello and welcome to This Week in Farming, our round-up of eye-catching news, features and the biggest topics that affected farming this week.

Here are the five biggest topics from the past seven days, plus a reminder to listen to this week’s FW podcast.

See also: Farmers Weekly meat sector clean-up campaign gains traction

River Lugg sentencing

The high-profile case over unconsented river maintenance works on the protected River Lugg ended with the judge sentencing Herefordshire farmer John Price to 12 months in prison and a whopping £1.25m bill, about half of which will be used to restore a 1.5km stretch of the river.

Mr Price spent more than 200 hours removing gravel, silt, trees and shrubs, and reprofiling the banks in a bid to protect local homes from flooding.

The EA welcomed the sentencing, saying it should act as a deterrent to other farmers and landowners who consider carrying out similar works without consent – but the sentencing has caused a backlash from residents and sections of the farming community.

Moodunnit? latest

Farmers Weekly continues to keep up the pressure on the authorities with our Meat: Our Expectations campaign following our exclusive story that a supermarket is under investigation for mislabelling imported beef as British.

FW deputy editor Abi Kay, who broke the story which sent shockwaves across the food and farming industry and the mainstream media, reports that two recommendations in our campaign are under active consideration by the authorities, including a bespoke a “whistleblowing” hotline.

Work-life conundrum

FW editor Andrew Meredith explores the work-life balance conundrum in his weekly editorial column, noting that scaling up the farm business in these difficult times may not be right for everyone.  

Instead, our editor says some farmers may wish to follow a similar path taken by beef and sheep farmer Michael Blanche who is (somehow) managing to work a 30-hour week and keeping the wolf from the door.

Meanwhile, in a related area, former FW Farm Manager of the Year award winners offer their top tips for keeping the workforce happy.

Lamb price rise

Sheep farmers will be delighted by buoyant demand for lamb, supported by Ed-al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting.

There has been a 21% in average liveweight price during the past month and tight supply through April and May should support prices.

Hoggs averaged 309.67p/kg liveweight at GB auction markets for the week ending 18 April.

Top telehandlers

Finally, if you fancy raiding your dwindling Basic Payment Scheme reserves and splashing out on a new telehandler, there’s no better place to start the search than Peter Hill’s 2023 ultimate guide to buying a telehandler.

His A-to-Z list is a must-read for farmers and landowners in the market for a new telehandler or a telescopic wheel loader, among the selection of larger new and improved models.

FW podcast

Don’t forget to tune in to the latest edition of the Farmers Weekly podcast, hosted by Hugh Broom and Johann Tasker.

On this week’s podcast, Red Tractor CEO Christine Tacon defends the farm assurance scheme at Farmers Weekly’s Question Time event – but admits there is room for improvement; and we look at why more farmers are growing sunflowers this spring.

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

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