Tim Piper

30 November 2001

Tim Piper

Tim Piper farms at

Churchlands on the edge

of Romney Marsh, Kent.

Wheat, barley, oilseed rape,

herbage seed and vining

peas occupy 890ha

(2200 acres) of the

1105ha (2730 acre) unit

LAND work is complete and all spraying up to date. Land to be planted in the spring has been ploughed and, compared to last year, it seems a bit of an anti-climax. But I am certainly not complaining.

The unseasonably kind weather is enabling us to clear up some of the jobs that we havent got round to for a while. We have completed several ditch cleaning operations and sorted out one or two land drains that obviously couldnt cope with last winters deluge.

What looked as if it might be a tight supply-and-demand situation for straw for livestock has been made a lot easier by the dry weather weve had this autumn. We still have a large amount of cattle out at grass and our feed bills at the end of the season should show a substantial reduction.

That should serve warning to all arable farmers expecting substantial increases in grain prices. Whats more, a large local poultry producer is reported to be buying foreign wheat – farm assured, of course. Hence, I dont think we are going to see any substantial price hikes in the short-term. Maybe at the end of the marketing season, when foreign wheat supplies begin to dry up, but not now. As we all know, nature has a way of balancing things out.

As is normal at this time of year, we are eagerly awaiting our IACS cheque but having recently had correspondence from DEFRA, whose officials have decided to measure some of our fields digitally, I am not getting too excited.

Still, we can always console ourselves with DEFRAs promise that next year, with the revolutionary e-iacs system in place, it will be much easier, much quicker and less hassle. I am yet to be convinced.

That said, our forms are now being handled by the Rural Payments Agency at Northaller-ton in North Yorks. So far they appear to be a lot more helpful and a lot more organised than the old office at Reading. &#42

Drilled up, sprayed up, its all a bit of an anti-climax, says Kent grower Tim Piper, not that hes complaining.

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