This Week in Farming: Strikes, SFI on the cheap and dairy tips

Welcome back to another edition of This Week in Farming, your regular round-up of the best content from Farmers Weekly.

But first, have you found the sun cream?

It was a fantastic day out this week at our Transition Live event, but there were more than a few faces turning beetroot red under the hot Cambridgeshire sun.

I hope that all we left visitors with was a head full of ideas, not crispy bits.

Now, on with the show.

Farmer confidence at low ebb

The NFU released the collated results of their annual farmer sentiment survey this week with the stark revelation that business confidence for the short-and-medium term is at its lowest point since they began collecting data on the topic in 2010.

This led them to call for a pause to Basic Payment Scheme cuts in England this year to help farmers pay for the damage arising from the prolonged wet winter weather.

It will no doubt give them plenty to talk about at next week’s Farm to Fork Summit at Downing Street, but what of the pledges made at last year’s inaugural meeting?

Deputy editor Abi Kay runs the rule over what’s been met and what’s outstanding.

Meeting SFI requirements

Of course, funding is also available for meeting the actions set out in the new Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) scheme, with Defra Secretary Steve Barclay revealing at Transition Live that 20,000 English farmers have successfully applied.

Getting the contract signed is just the starting point of course, with all manner of crops from wildflower mixes to legume fallows to establish after.

That’s the topic the machinery desk have turned their attention to this week, with a close look at how farmers can do it cheaply themselves and a visit to a contractor who’s got tooled up to cope with five drills for the new type of business.

The arable team have also got a piece on how to make the most from another SFI option – companion cropping.

Dairy decisions

The smell of the dairy parlour comes wafting even more strongly than usual off the livestock pages this week with a plethora of cost-saving content.

See if any of these take your fancy:

Huw’s news

Wales’s new cabinet secretary for rural affairs, Huw Irranca-Davies wants his appointment to be a reset moment in the relationship between the Welsh government and the farming community, he has told Farmers Weekly.

Now there have been hints of a shift in three key areas: The proposal for all farms to have 10% tree cover, ensuring the social value of farming is captured in the new scheme; and making sure it works for tenant farmers and common land.

Fears or hopes of a new cabinet secretary in Scotland have been put to rest after new first minister John Swinney left Mairi Gougeon to continue to oversee rural affairs, land reform and islands.

Who’s up and who’s down

On a high this week? The Farmers Weekly team. After an enormous amount of preparation, it was enormously rewarding to have so many of you attend the inaugural Transition Live event, some three years after our Transition project began.

Thank you for your support.

Bosses at the New Holland tractor assembly plant in Basildon will be feeling gloomy this week after workers revealed plans to walk out later this month.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham accused the company of “trying to rake in even more profits by short-changing its workers”.

Listen to the FW Podcast

Don’t forget to listen to the latest edition of the Farmers Weekly podcast with Johann Tasker and Sandy Kirkpatrick online.

Alternatively, bring us with you in the cab by downloading it from your usual podcast platform.

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