The Christmas tree is now in residence, the children have finished school without any disruption and plans for the festive season are well under way. Christmas shopping is complete (a huge sigh of relief is exhaled from certain family members) and when all the work has been done we shall eat, drink and be merry – or rather fall asleep and start again the following day.

Having sat down to eat a hastily prepared supper, it was family discussion time at the dinner table…

Modern machinery was the topic tonight. What excitement; is it better to have modern machinery that seem to be rather expensive to repair or older machinery that you can repair yourselves? We have a relatively new telehandler that seems to be a “Friday afternoon” job, small problems that continue to annoy us on a daily basis. If you total up the cost of the machine and the cost of the ongoing issues it becomes a little more than a never-ending empty bank account.

The problem that we encounter is that the machine is in use 365 days a year. On a cold, damp morning it is essential that the machine starts and performs well. The ever-faithful Ford tractor that Fergus has lovingly restored is easy to fix and always seems to start come rain or shine. It’s not the most luxurious or comfortable machine, but these are some of the sacrifices to be made.

Tom Pemberton Farm Life seems to be the latest obsession in our house. His YouTube vlogs (online videos) seem to be played the instant they appear. He certainly has a way, and I must confess to having watched a couple. I’m undecided as to whether he is a good influence or not. I wonder how he manages to get away with some of the things he does; personally I think the “Red Shepherdess” has a lot to do with the older members of the family watching it.

I have unsuccessfully been trying to purchase some of his “merch”. The minute it goes live on the internet it seems to have sold out, so clearly the boys are not the only ones to be obsessed. The farm shop and clothing must be bringing in huge amounts of revenue.

The annual farm subsides will decrease by at least 50% BY 2024. The BPS will start being reduced from 2021. Businesses that receive £30,000 or less will see their subsidy fall by 5% in 2021, followed by a gradual increase to 50% in 2024. Farmers who receive more than this will see their BPS fall at an even higher rate.
The Government has launched its path to sustainable farming. I believe the changes will be brought in over the next seven years. The Environmental Land Management scheme (ELMS) will be introduced to give an incentive for sustainable farming processes whilst boosting the environment.

Level 1 of ELMS will be the sustainable farming incentive that will aid farm husbandry and commend soil improvement and pest management. Level 2 – Natural England – will pay for creating, managing and restoring wildlife habitats etc and Level 3 will be landscape recovery through projects that will include large-scale woodland creations. The Government has promised that they will simplify existing schemes and their application processes; cutting red tape would be a start.

A new farming investment fund to enable businesses to invest in the future in things such as equipment, technology and infrastructure will all form part of it. Farming will not have seen a change like this in over 70 years. We shall see how it all pans out. If the Government has anything to do with it, I wouldn’t hold out much hope. Let us hope we can all live off bark, butterflies and beetles.

All that remains is for me to wish you all an incredibly happy Christmas and a prosperous new year. Stay safe in 2021.