Autumn is the new January! Cows are in; tups are out. Winter crops are in, blackgrass spray on. Silage clamps full; slurry lagoons empty-hopefully. Not that I am suggesting there is nothing to do, there is always something to do, but it might be possible to accept a couple of those shooting invitations sitting behind the clock on the mantlepiece!
For many types of enterprises, the farming year starts in Autumn and by November the ‘first phase’ of the year is over. Certainly, the die is cast in terms of crop establishment, especially oilseed rape. The condition score of ewes will in part define the success of next spring’s lambing and autumn block-calving dairy herds will be looking for a high percentage of takes at first insemination.
It may be a useful time to take stock.
Period of change
Like many other types of business, farming is having to deal with a shortage of labour, difficulties in obtaining raw materials and inflation. However, farming is also having to deal with a period of unprecedented change as we move away from being shielded by the Common Agricultural Policy. The industry continues to carry the legacy of a post-war cheap food policy and food remains a highly political issue in the lives of our population; the recent media coverage of empty supermarket shelves makes the point. Farmers would much prefer to be paid the right price for their produce, but the fact remains that farming has had to rely on subsidies in one form or another, be it a guaranteed payment scheme, intervention, IACS, SFP or BPS. But not for much longer.
How will you change your business to compensate for the cut in direct funding?
Despite the problems of Covid 19, which for many has had a disastrous effect on family life which cannot be underestimated, there have also been winners. For landowners and farmers involved in a diversification offering leisure and hospitality it has been a bonanza. Earlier this year we ran a #HelpfulFOLK webinar which highlighted the fact the permitted rights to establish a pop-up campsite were extended from 28-days to 56-days. One listener took up the challenge with only the minimum of investment and went on to gross £120,000! Lobbying is taking place to keep the extension for 2022.
Could you use the winter period to lay on the basic infrastructure for a camp site? Even with no extension you still have a 28-day window.
The estate and farm in the 21st century are not just producers of food. Responsibilities extend to caring for the environment, increasing biodiversity, public access, and water quality. Business activities extend to producing energy, leisure, entertainment, hospitality and even storage facilities. There is more to come as we get to grips with climate change.
Make time to join our next #HelpfulFOLK webinar on Monday 29th November at noon to hear how climate change mitigation might affect you. We won’t have all the answers, but you may become more aware of the opportunities.