The New Year brings new rules – not the self-improving acts we make and then fail to deliver. No, the real ‘new rules’ with consequences, warnings and penalties – changes to cross-compliance, sheep identification and flock records and a new Glastir contract.
In our house, the perception of rules and their significance does vary. While I fret as much as the next farmer about regulation, I confess that once I have reached the stage of ‘acceptance’ I do quite like following rules. They appeal to a part of my personality which enjoys being right. The other member of the farming partnership, however, prefers to adopt a more ‘risk-based’ approach.
At the turn of the year, I embarked on a process of education, spelling out new requirements, together with the implications of non-compliance. I am pleased the TB test has been booked and Glastir activity diary requirements are understood. The mention of EID, however, continues to invoke shakes of the head and mutterings of pointlessness.
We participated in a Welsh Government trial of EID equipment back in 2007. Issues relating to tag retention, reading accurately down the race and downloading data all presented significant headaches.
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.
While things have moved on and we have seen EID used to positive effect on the local Farming Connect demonstration farm, Bobby remains frustrated this regulation adds cost and effectively sets farmers up to fail, as achieving 100 per cent accuracy is about impossible.
And for what reason? You only have to walk down the aisles of one of a supermarket and look at the mixed packs – whether it be UK or NZ origin or whether it be species – to understand the true value of traceability to retailers.
On-farm, the ‘ground’ ewes have scanned at 140 per cent. These ewes are on swedes, but we will need to get rid of the Friesian bulls by March to create some shed space for the twins. We will scan the Epynt ewes next month, but have decided not to scan the Yscoedreddfyn hill ewes on grounds of cost.
The bad weather has been causing a few problems.
Having only just got all the dents straightened on our truck, Bobby took off in the snow yesterday and put it through a fence. The kids were watching from the top of the field and he walked away unscathed so there was no real harm done.