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Poor weather and prices have knocked our Brexit preparations off course

A few years ago, our plan was to mitigate the loss of direct payments through diversification, but poor weather and prices mean that additional cash is being used to keep the farm afloat today, says Cornish lamb and beef farmer Rona Amiss.

Brexit happened, although down in Cornwall you would have hardly noticed.

 

After the excitement of flying the flag for the weekend, we’ve slipped back into a wind and rain battered farm where the spring still seems elusive.

 

The only clarity we have is that our farm payment will be reduced starting in 2021. This is not really a surprise, but something we now need to start planning for with urgency.

 

A few years back, our Brexit plan involved diversifying into a tearoom and events which should have replaced some of our direct payments.

 

In reality, with the weather and prices over the last two years, that income has become crucial in keeping our farm afloat.

 

Hand over

 

Being a FBT tenant, it often feels we just collect the subsidy to hand over to our commercially-focussed landlord.

 

Maybe I can hope the rent is reduced as well, but I’m not holding my breath.

 

We are in an AONB area, SSSI, national nature reserve and hugely busy, beautiful part of Cornwall.

 

Environmental schemes are an important part of Cornish coastal farming.

 

We are stuck in a difficult HLS agreement which has some options that were seen as beneficial 15 years ago, but now I have more interest in soil, there are some elements I would be keen to lose.

 

Next week I am off to the first meeting of one of the Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme pilot groups.

 

Aspirations

 

ELMs seems to have some fantastic aspirations, but is pretty unclear how it’s going to deliver them, who is going to deliver them and how on earth are they going to be paid for.

 

Yet again, this is an important strand of our income we are completely in the dark about.

 

As the coronavirus now takes up all the news and Brexit has been forgotten by the media, hopefully some serious work will be put into this scheme so it delivers on time.

 

But if the BBC is right, coronavirus could dramatically change the landscape across the world both politically and financially.

 

Then who knows what will happen.

 

Rona can be found tweeting at @grassfedsheep


Read More

Defra’s Environmental Land Management Scheme – Everything you need to knowDefra’s Environmental Land Management Scheme – Everything you need to know

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