News from the Farm Gate by Milly Fyfe (Ed 113)

We are out! Who could of predicted that? I didn’t expect it would happen but here we are, out of Europe. There is no doubt that there will be a lot of uncertainty until everyone can get their head around the idea. And not forgetting that we now have a new Prime Minister. 

At the moment there seems to be a lot of mixed opinion in the farming industry as to what will happen and how we will all be effected. Some worry about the support payments we receive and what will come of those. Others are optimistic and hope that with less layers of bureaucracy, policy making and legislation it will become a lot clearer cut. 

I am hopeful for the future and want our customers, those who purchase the food we produce, to appreciate all the factors (or hurdles) we have to overcome in order to put food on the table. There are so many other governmental departments vying for their share of the coffers. Farming always seems to be put at the bottom of the pile. But what could be more important than the food we eat? 

What I am really getting at is that there is a fear that the price of food may fluctuate and the people who get hit the hardest are the producers. At the moment for instance, some retailers have put a penalty on carcass weights for beef animals if they go over a certain weight. Therefore, the producer picks up a fine or deduction from the overall price paid for the animal. 

The retailer still takes the excess meat, regardless, and so is making extra profit whilst the producers lose out. Now everyone is made aware of these changes, they can start to produce leaner animals, however this change has not gone down very well, as you can imagine. 

Back home on the farm we are gearing up for harvest. It has been a lousy Summer so far. We have struggled to make anyhay for our animals. We have been waiting for a sunny period to dry the grass out suitable for baling and as you know, it has been wet then dry for a continual period. Let’s hope August and September improves and we enjoy warmer temperatures. 

Back in June I started working for the Beef and Dairy Shorthorn societies as their new Chief executive. I had been looking for my next leadership challenge and after searching for a while for suitable opportunities in the farming industry, this position ticked all the boxes. I wanted to remain working for a charitable organisation and find a job that married up my love for livestock farming and food marketing. 

I couldn’t be happier with my first couple of months in the role. I have been busy attending agricultural shows, meeting the members of both the societies and getting a handle on how I can help to promote the breed and support their charitable objectives. 

I have started at a really interesting time. Morrison’s supermarket have been very supportive of the Beef Shorthorn for some time and in September will launch a branded Beef Shorthorn ‘Best’ range. It is a hugely important step forward to see a native breed be recognised for its eating quality in the meat and the distinctive marbling that can also be seen. The challenge for our members and the society is to help increase numbers and provide consistency within the supply chain. The branded products will be in selected stores and hopefully will be rolled out nationwide as more producers sign up to the scheme that provides a premium for beef animals bred from a Shorthorn bull. 

When I next write I am hopeful that our bathroom in the farmhouse will be completed. We are currently in chaos as have had builders ripping walls down left, right and centre. I know the short term inconvenience will be worth it but at the moment I am trying to forget about all the dust and mess that is being created. There is never a dull moment with us! 

You can follow Milly on twitter @millyfyfe or @Orchard_Produce or visit www.millyfyfe.com

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