Charles Bruce: ‘One of the routine tasks I am not looking forward to is clipping the ewes’

livestockfarm lifeFarm focusCropsDiversificationPolitics+-

Charles Bruce farms near Banff, Aberdeenshire, and has 98 hectares (242 acres) of owned land, 76ha (188 acres) of malting barley which is contract farmed, and rented seasonal grazings extending to 40ha (99 acres). Running an 80-cow fold of pedigree Highland cattle, these are used to supply an on-farm butchery business and his Bogside Farm Shop. There is a commercial ewe flock of about 230-head and a trout fishery is also run as part of the business.


In the wake of the General Election, which did not go as many pundits had predicted, it was interesting that every political leader claimed to have a victory of some sort. The exception, of course, was Theresa May and the Conservatives, who actually had the most votes yet was declared to have, in some way, lost.


For the first time in many years I am going to be represented by the candidate who I actually voted for, who in this case happens to be a neighbouring farmer’s son who left agricultural to work in the oil and gas industry. It is no coincidence that the east coast of Scotland, the Moray coast and the Borders turned blue this time around.


There is so much resentment and disillusionment with the incumbent Scottish National Party administration, which has not found a permanent solution to the Basic Payment Scheme debacle and is still trying to get payments out on time.


It has not been lost on many of the agricultural community that it is now costing more to make each payment than many agricultural businesses are actually getting.


Over the last two decades or more we farmers have been told to change, adapt, become more efficient and diversify. A fantastic example we are being shown by our superiors in Government.


Crops are generally looking very good in the north east of Scotland, with many spring barley crops looking particularly well having reached ear emergence stage significantly before the Royal Highland Show.


An early harvest would be a real bonus this year. With this year’s lamb crop more or less just starting to be brought to market, the prices have been to seller’s advantage. It is now going to start to swing in the other direction, with a 30p/kg drop this week at the local abattoir.


One of the routine tasks I am not looking forward to is clipping the ewes, although there is always a sense of deep satisfaction when finished and the ewes look fresh and clean.

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