David Hall blog - The buzz of the forager

David Hall

NFU North West Regional Director

What a challenging spring 2021 has been.

We have gone from winter to summer in a couple of days in the hills of Saddleworth. Grass growth has been slow, but neighbours are gathering grass for silage, and I can hear the buzz of the forager as I type.

Let’s hope the kind weather continues and it makes up for the lack of sunshine and heat we have missed out on so far this year. Mother Nature usually looks after us and provides some balance through the year.David Hall_73477

I am not sure that the same can be said about the Government and the current practices as far as the development of future funding for the industry and the impending trade deals are concerned. The push for a trade deal with Australia has hit the headlines and is of great concern to livestock farmers in the region and also to sugar beet growers in other parts of the country.

Beef, sheep, and sugar are sensitive products as far as a trade deal with Australia is concerned and it should not be unthinkable to have measures in place that ensure that these sectors are not negatively impacted by trade in the future.

There are examples of these measures such as Tariff Rate Quotas (TRQs) that are in place within the trade deal with Japan as an example. Both New Zealand and Australia currently have TRQs in place for beef and lamb, so this is a structure that they are used to operating within. The TRQ volumes could be negotiated to levels that are more aligned to the UK market.

The export of food and drink is something the Australians are very serious about. They work hard to develop markets for their produce.

The Australian Government has 11 envoys around the world helping develop markets, yet England and the UK have only one.

If our government want us to become global exporters than there needs to be significantly more effort put behind it.

There is concern Australian imports could undermine our production as we drive to produce to higher environmental standards.

As our NFU President Minette Batters has stated in a letter to the Times newspaper in response to an article on the Australia deal: “Britain’s farmers are not against trade, in fact, we have always been supportive of it, when it is fair, benefits Britain and fundamentally does not fatally undermine our own producers.”  

The long-awaited announcement on the consultation on lump sums and delinking is finally over with the document receiving a lukewarm response from members.

The prospect of taking 2.35 times the annual payment does not seem an attractive offer when the knock-on implications could be far reaching.

Questions were raised about how the lump sum would be treated in relation to income tax and also around APR and inheritance tax. These are questions that will hopefully have answers over the coming weeks and months.

The NFU will feed in everyone’s responses, and I would encourage those who are interested in taking the lump sum option to have a read of the briefing on the NFU website, as well as the Defra document.

Following that I’d then urge you to contact the regional office to share your views. 

The end of May saw the launch of the consultation on the Lake District National Park (LDNP) Partnership plan.

This will have a greater impact on those who farm within the park than those that do not.

LDNP partnership brings together a wide range of stakeholders and the role of the NFU is to represent the farmers who live and work in the park. It’s our job to ensure that they can continue to farm in the future, producing high quality livestock as generations before them did.

Farmer led nature recovery is at the heart of what has been produced and I know that farmers see themselves as part of the solution in the Lake District. They just need certainty of the direction Government wants them to go and then they will undoubtedly deliver.