IT is good to see the livestock farmers having a better year, but I do hope that other sectors also have positive years as the weather is certainly causing havoc for members that are working the soil. Climate change is mixing up weather patterns and we are seeing more extremes which is really hard to work with and plan for. Let’s hope that mother nature is kind so all the winter crops can be sown and we don’t have a repeat of last year.

The consultation on dairy contracts closed on September 15 and I hope as many dairy farmers as possible took the time to complete the online form and let Defra know what you think about the relationship you have with your milk buyer.

I know there are some great examples of good practice and there are some that are shocking. We need to get consistency and a better balance of power in the supply chain.

We have a retailer, that takes milk from the region, impose new demands on their farmers in relation to how they manage their calves with little to no consultation. This type of action is not the way farmers want to do business with their milk buyer and their customers.

We must work towards fairer and more transparent supply chains with a balance of risk taken by everyone.

I am pretty sure that the impact of Covid-19 on the markets will have a long tail and the return to what is seen as normal will take a long time to materialise. The food service sector is far from fully functioning and the Chancellor’s ‘free chips’ scheme which ran through August will have given a welcome boost.

Potato growers have had a tough year with weather pressure and then market disruption which many are now having to adjust to. Cash flow will be a major issue for many businesses as income is very seasonal, as is expenditure. Some businesses will have taken advantage of the loans that government provided, and I know the Bounce Back Loans were particularly well received.

It is always very easy to spend money, the challenge is paying it back. I do hope that money borrowed to help keep a business afloat doesn’t turn out to be the reason that businesses fail.

With just three months to go before the end of the transition period, many members are looking to government to give an indication of what the future support system will look like. We are told that BPS will start to be phased out in 2021 with only the first year’s cuts in the public domain and there is no indication of what level of funding is behind the new Environment Land Management Scheme.

The NFU has lobbied hard for the transition period for BPS to be put back for a year but Defra have been adamant that it will not happen. They insist they are ready to deliver a new scheme and it must be up and running by 2024.

We are planning a series of web-based events called ‘NFU Live’ and the first topic covered will be our thoughts on a new scheme for farming. The details of the events are included in the magazine which we plan to run fortnightly in the run up to Christmas.