Cirencester farmer James Wright, who keeps 300 New Zealand Romney ewes and 6 million Black Soldier flies for animal feed, explains why he has considered selling his flock in the face of Brexit uncertainty.
I work in two popular opposite environments. The insect farm is clinically clean and kept at a constant 28°C with high humidity, whilst at times this spring the sheep have been in mud and freezing temperatures – quite the contrast.
There are fewer than 365 days until we leave the European Union, but let’s be honest, next spring can hardly be worse than the one we have just had.
Much like the weather, the Brexit negotiations are never clear. One evening we have a report that the issues of the Irish border have been settled by remaining in the customs union and the next we hear we are leaving the customs union; for real this time, no take backs.
Like every farmer, I am desperate for clarity. Ewes going to the ram this autumn will give birth outside of the European Union.
With our largest market for lamb being on the continent, should we all be looking to cut the numbers of ewes we are running? Many will already be thinking about this with the second awful spring within five years.
It is time for us to be making big decisions. We have paid off our bank loan and now own our sheep outright, but with an impending marriage in July, we have considered selling the flock to buy a house to weather the Brexit storm.
Despite the potentially bleak outlook, I was excited to see the majority of people attending a recent tenancy viewing in Truro were young families or couples – all of them keen to get their foot on the farming ladder. Despite all I have said, we have put in a bid.
Another ray of sunshine is that we now have the ability to set our own agricultural policy agenda, free of the shackles of the European Union.
The food, farming and the environment consultation will decide our future. It is now that every farmer should find an hour to write a response, because if we don’t, special interest groups will.
Defra is expecting thousands of responses. Let your name be among them!
To respond to the consultation, click HERE.