Welcome to the Summer edition of Farming Matters and, at last, spring does seem to be in the air, after what seemed to be one of the wettest and coldest winters for many a year.
The long, wet winter has undoubtedly had a detrimental impact on pretty much all sectors of the farming community, whether it has delayed the planting of crops therefore impacting on yields later in the year, led to significantly increased costs for wintering of animals or seen a very difficult lambing season.
Perhaps the only positive that can be taken is that the few days of snow led to supermarket shelves being empty of fresh produce. This, in principle, makes people and politicians take notice and appreciate the overall fragility of the food supply chain and reminds everyone that food should not be taken for granted.
Hopefully now we can look forward to a more favourable summer which should make your everyday life a little bit easier! February saw DEFRA launch its much-anticipated consultation on the future of food, farming and the environment. When I have spoken about the document and, in particular, capping on direct payments and ‘public funds for public goods’, I have actively encouraged farmers to read the document and provide feedback. I really hope that the industry has not taken a position of apathy, and assumed that others will respond, but instead has provided sufficient sensible comments to make a real difference.