Posted on 20 July, 2017Comments (0)

Farm Notes

Farm Notes

The first fields of the 2017 harvest have now been cut although none of our crops yet. Yields are apparently average which considering the dry spell in the spring and the few very hot days is ok. The largest area of cropping on all arable farms is winter wheat and until we start cutting that crop the outcome of this harvest will not be really known. My view at the moment is that I would very happily settle for an average harvest but something better would be great. Soft brome which is a grass weed has appeared in some of our fields and on other farms this year – is this a seasonal effect that has been created by this year’s weather encouraging dormant seed to germinate or a result of cropping practice?

The farm’s annual performance is a function of yield and grain price – due to weather issues elsewhere the price of grain has risen to currently about £145 ex farm for harvest movement (£115 2016) which is great. The Canadians have planted more oilseed rape (Canola) than wheat for the first time ever. The Americans have the lowest planted wheat area since 1919, the Australians are predicting that their wheat harvest will drop from the 2016 35 million tonnes to 23 million tonnes in 2017. The Russians have too much rain and the Americans too little – this all goes to demonstrate that relying upon food imports is a dangerous strategy for any nation if the population is to be fed. Currently over 50% of the food we eat is imported – no real control over price or production standards.

There is a very good Panorama programme, on iPlayer at present, looking at UK farming post Brexit – originally shown on 10th July. One of the scariest facts was that the Americans see the UK post Brexit as a huge export opportunity for their beef which is cheaply produced in feedlots where the animals live on concrete slats and are fed GM maize and injected with hormones to grow faster. Contrast that with UK beef which is mostly grass fed and grazed. NO growth hormones are used in the UK. Although both are meats, they are produced to completely different standards which the consumer – you – are going to need to be very aware of. This applies not just to beef but all imported commodities.

It will be the consumers choice that shapes UK farming in future – cheap with little regard to the environment or production methods OR wholesome food produced in the UK in a way that enhances the countryside.

Finally I must respond to the comments in last month’s Villager in which on page 23 there are claims that farmers are destroying the countryside by destroying hedges etc. The speaker should be better informed and not stating incorrect propaganda – it has been illegal to remove farm hedges since 1997 and in fact farmers have planted 30,000 kilometres in the last few years as well as providing 37,000 kilometres of grass margins around fields to provide wildlife habitats. The hedges removed now are those on building developments.

With regard to “factory farming” of animals – that is where your food will come from if he succeeds in shutting down British farming. Our food will come from countries that do not have the high UK welfare standards. CIWF needs to face the current situation rather than using out of date facts which no doubt boost their fund raising campaigns (and salaries) but do no public good.

Julian Lewis

[Please note that this message is not posted on behalf of Bentworth Parish Council and does not necessarily reflect the Parish Council’s policy]

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