Don’t miss this month’s new look Arable Farming. Take a look at the digital edition today.
Here we are then on the threshold of summer and, looking back over the last few months, I have to say it’s been a funny old spring, cool, and for a while quite dry, which on the plus side has kept a lid on disease, but has meant a slow start to the growing season.
It’s that time of year when unresolved weed issues start to show and there will be many of you, I am sure, disappointed to see black-grass poking through crop canopies, even after some carefully targeted autumn control measures. However, with the technical events and open days calendar getting underway, there will be opportunity to quiz the experts on the latest thinking on pest, weed and disease control. I am certainly looking forward to getting out to a few events in the coming weeks.
I cannot mention technical events without flagging up our Cereals preview in this issue. Check it out for all the essential need-to-know stuff, an advance look at a selection of the arable kit which will be on show, plus in-depth features on some of the topics likely to be attracting attention at the event.
While there is plenty going on in the fields, out of them economic and political issues are making the headlines in the form of supermarkets announcing pre-tax losses running into the billions in one notable case, currency influences on input and output prices, Basic Payment Scheme uncertainties and, of course, the election result. In terms of the latter, one might reflect the majority result achieved would bring a period of stability, but with an in-out referendum on Europe promised by 2017, some say earlier, it seems likely we are instead destined for a period of uncertainty for the farming and business communities. What is important is farmers and growers, together with the wider agricultural industry, ensure their voices are heard during this debate.
In the context of the improvements being seen in the wider economy, the weak prices and increasing input costs being experienced in the farming sector are disappointing. A Rural Business Research report showing growers made a loss on three out of the four major arable crops in 2013 and Defra’s TIFF figures indicating a 4.4% fall in earnings last year, only serve to highlight the pressure farmers and growers continue to be under.
Going forward the farming sector must work hard to ensure it does not incur an unfair increase in its costs as a result of supermarket price wars, legislation or political manoeuvring.
Teresa Rush, Arable Farming editor.