Young Farmer Focus - Chris Haylock, Suffolk

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Chris Haylock is Halstead YFC chairman

Chris Haylock farms 1,214 hectares (3,000 acres) with his parents in Haverhill, Suffolk. They grow winter wheat, rape and beans, as well as spring barley and beet. He intends to start growing winter barley next year. Chris is the chairman of Halstead YFC.


Weather: As is the case for everything at the moment, my week of work has been completely governed by weather.

After managing to get ahead with jobs, a week-and-a-half of patchy weather has meant we are now facing another backlog.

The start of the week was all about preparing machinery and making sure everything is done and dusted before harvest begins.

Preparing: We are planning to start harvest at the beginning of July. Oilseed rape is the earliest to be done, which going by today’s weather is looking like it could be the third week in July, but we will have to wait and see.

All tractors and telehandlers needed general maintenance and grain stores needed clearing out and giving a good clean to make sure everything was fit for purpose.

From Wednesday onwards, it was hit and miss with what work I was able to do. I was quite happily spraying while the weather was fine, but then spent a lot of time waiting for the rain to pass before I could jump back on the sprayer.

Young Farmers: As chairman of Halstead Young Farmers Club, I have been helping other members prepare for a YFC party this Friday.

The proceeds of this will go to our chosen charity, Essex Air Ambulance. Fundraising started with ‘Movember’ in 2015 and we have also sold Christmas trees, held a charity ball and are running a bar at a 21st birthday party in a couple of weeks.

We tend to keep 25 per cent of the profit for our club funds and the rest goes directly to Essex Air Ambulance.

Future: I guess you could say I have been handed a silver spoon, as my family farms about 1,214 hectares (3,000 acres), which offers me a promising future.

A lot of young people in the industry are not given this opportunity, but I think times are getting easier for young farmers to enter the industry, as more companies approach organisations such as NFYFC to tap into the bank of young talent.

The future of farming is inevitably going to change, and in the next 10 to 15 years I predict big farms will get bigger and small farms will diminish.

But you have to have a progressive approach and, in my opinion, if you can afford to upgrade machinery in the next few years, it is going to be a case of biting the bullet and going for it.

If you don’t, someone else will.


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