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Rachel Lewis Davies: A milestone, spring approaches and the challenges of BPS application

This month I am faced with a dilemma – that is whether or not to share with the world the news I recently enjoyed a significant birthday. A dilemma, because failure to mention will lead those of you who know me to discern an element of denial. On the other hand, why would I want to draw unwelcome attention to the fact earlier this month I was 40?

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In the event, the occasion passed without too much fuss or frivolity. I believe life’s key milestones should be marked in acres rather than candles on a birthday cake – and the ‘silver strands’ bear testimony to this fact.

 

Anyway, back to business and the Friesian bulls went into Hereford market recently, with Bobby pleased with the outcome. Weighing 330kg and averaging 175p/kg, it seems there is relatively strong demand for this type of animal among beef finishers. We are keen to develop this as an enterprise, however, sourcing is a problem, with TB restrictions frustrating efforts to obtain calves from the usual farm.

 

The sale of the cattle means we have been able to house the ewes to the cross-bred tups for lambing. They are about to start and we don’t seem to have had too many pre-lambing hiccups. Spring grass growth is slow and Yscoedreddfyn looks yellow. Thankfully, we have a good amount of root crops and plenty of good silage left. I never thought I would say this but Spite Inn is something of a ‘green oasis’, with the reseeds looking well – the plan is to get the twins over there after lambing.

 

This years’ Single Application Form (SAF) (or should I say Basic Payment Scheme – BPS) is challenging convention at all levels. There seems a certain irony we will be going through the process in Wales without any real idea of what exactly we are applying for.

 

I am also challenging convention at home. It is rumoured local Divisional Office staff believe the SAF process has come to an end for another year only after Bobby has been in with his form. It is not only the online process which will bring this custom to an end. My preliminary investigations of BPS with its ineligible features, new crop codes and sketch maps tell me this is not a year to leave it until the last minute to start filling the form in.

 

Rachel Lewis-Davies, Powys

Rachel and her husband Bob, farm Yscoedreddfyn, near Brecon, Mid Wales. They bought the 109ha (270-acre) farm, which rises to 400m (1, 300ft) with common rights on Mynydd Bach Trecastle and rent a 45ha (110-acre) hill farm with grazing rights on a local MoD range. They farm 950 ewes, mainly Epynt Hardy Speckled.

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