Now Mrs May has triggered article 50 we are all rather stepping into the unknown, with our prospects thrown in at the deep end. While agriculture minister George Eustice seems very well briefed, it would have been really encouraging to see Owen Paterson back on board as he would be an invaluable support to British farming in the coming negotiations.

Most are well aware no guarantees can be given beyond 2020, largely because there is an election due then so, while it looks unlikely, everything could change. Clearly there should be some more clarity before then on the principles regarding farm support, in whatever form. Many farmers’ concerns about the future of these payments are not helped by politicians and others saying they want to siphon off a hefty percentage of the total pot away from farming into somewhat spurious non agricultural options.

So many bodies appear to simply see this money as something for them to dip their sticky fingers into, thus reducing the sums available to the farming industry. A past example has been the way the big retailers have helped themselves to what started as the single farm payment and which, one way and another, has gone into their coffers at the expense of farming.

Then, although slightly different, there is the farm assurance enforcement industry constantly saying the public demands this or that when the only ones truly pushing their often excessive demands are these enforcement agencies themselves. They are trying to gold plate legislation that actually only increases their own self importance, all the while taking yet more desperately needed money from the agricultural industry.

They use that well rehearsed phrase public concerns as their justification. But unless the public are directly asked specifically loaded survey questions, most simply have no strong views on most of the things being increasingly imposed on farming. All most want is cheap food: within reason, they are not greatly concerned about how it is produced. Obviously they would be concerned about humane treatment of livestock, and so too are we farmers.

Farming only has a big need for a share of this subsidy pot because of the grossly inequitable manner it continues to be used as a milch cow for third party interests so that prices are kept way below the cost of production. Milk and grain immediately come to mind but every aspect of farming is affected. Sheep, beef, poultry and of course pigs, which can move in and out of profit quicker than it takes for a litter to move from birth through to slaughter.

So farming presently has to rely on European Union handouts which other groups constantly seek to get their fingers on. What is usually lost sight of is that this money is not actually subsidies for the farmers but, quite plainly, subsidies to the general public who are then able to get their food at unrealistically low prices. The aim of governments since the last war has been to provide the population with cheap food. Food is the most important purchase the public can make, yet it always has to be cheap as dirt. This effectively devalues our products, and indeed those who strive to produce it – rather than getting a fair price and a just living from the market place. The industry needs the support of government but simply doesn’t get more than lip service, as we are bullied by the big PLCs and supermarket concerns who live off our backs and hard work.

This situation has developed because of the long outlived cheap food policy, a mentality nurtured by a succession of mainly socialist governments. This is perpetrated still today by the “two for one,” “buy one get one free” type offers, turning vital feeds like meat, milk, fruit or veg, into loss leaders and continuing the race to the bottom. Yet the costs are carried by the producers, not the big retailers.

Perhaps once we are free of the many largely heavy handed, usually pettifogging rules emanating from Brussels it is possible more value will be put on producing food from our own farms and soils. Probably not. Perhaps the population has become too dependent on offers and cheapies.

For the second year running we have finished up with another nice crop of replacement dairy heifer calves, most of which have come from our fairly recent policy of serving maiden heifers to Friesian artificial insemination. For years we had used natural service with Angus bulls until it became clear these bulls were no longer serving our purpose and, as noted previously, we had regular calving problems. Then, when we switched to Friesians, we found we were getting easy calvings and, more importantly, significantly higher numbers of heifer calves.

I was talking to our agronomist recently, about the recent huge influx of weed grasses in our leys. He gave me some reassurance by saying we were not alone, although it’s no consolation. He thinks it is largely brought on by several wet winters encouraging both couch and running grasses. We will have a lot of reseeding to undertake which will either be done direct in the autumn or by burning the weeds off and putting in maize, leaving the land to be direct seeded in October.

The last full week of March saw another radial TB test in a sequence following an outbreak locally. Fortunately despite the inclusion of one severe interpretation test where we lost four animals, which all subsequently proved negative; and three further ones which Deathra imposed on a whim which again we passed clear, we finally appear, as I write, to be considered clear at this time. These are very trying rules, made up, as it appears, by people in Deathra who think it is all a game.