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In your field: Thomas Carrick - 'Good prices are need to cover the cost of spring feeding'

It has been a spring to forget for many, with the cold May dragging out winter for what seemed an unbelievable length.

Now at least June is trying to save things and the more settled and warm weather came just in time to get cattle turned out. While we can’t claim it’s hot in the north like it is in the south east, at least it is dry.

 

Grass is trying to play catch up, but pastures are full of twin lambs and cattle, so things are evenly balanced.

 

Silage fields are just about getting into gear and a couple of decent growing weeks will do a lot of good now there is plenty of leaf to make the best of that June sunshine.

 

Lambs are doing well and thriving in the sunshine and all have now had their clostridial booster jab.

 

The cold seems to have kept worms at bay and, to some extent, perhaps helped growth despite the overall lack of grass.

 

We just need these healthy prices to hold up to cover the expense of heavy feeding throughout spring.


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Eagerly anticipated details of the new Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) are starting to emerge with a set of eight standards along with proposed payment rates published on the Government website.

 

Rollout of the pilot is due in the coming months and it is encouraging to hear so many farmers have put their businesses forward to take part, as participation will be the only way in which farming will have its voice heard.

 

The hard part is going to be figuring out how the SFI will fit not just into and around current farming practices, but alongside all the standards which are not yet publicly detailed, as well as proposed Local Nature Recovery and Regional Nature Recovery schemes.

 

It’s a complex and very different regulatory framework compared to what we are used to and anyone who currently claims Basic Payments should keep up-to-date with the details as released, or take part in the pilot.

 

As ever, details of finance will be crucial for many to evaluate how their businesses will adapt and indeed whether or not some of the dramatic changes in the new standards can be tolerated or afforded.

 

The payment rates which are proposed are, I’m sure, going to disappoint many who assumed the new SFI would somehow replace the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS).

 

On face value it would seem that even the stringent advanced level of participation in the SFI would deliver a payment well below half of what BPS would deliver.

 

As seismic as the changes may sound, we are being invited to take part in an unprecedented pilot scheme which will allow us to feed back to produce something in the end which we as farmers can benefit from.

 

We now need to make sure we take part, tell it as it is and whether SFI looks attractive or easier to live without.

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