President's Blog - 20 April 2018

We are getting well into April and are no where near where we need to be with Spring 2018 writes President Andrew McCornick

Seeds are sitting in the barn that we hoped would be planted in Autumn 2017 and those bags of seed are hiding behind the spring seed that was bought to plant in the unsown fields because we are still not getting onto them.

The weather has taken a toll on the livestock sector as well and the National Fallen Stock Company collection figures give a clear measure of how badly. This can be directly attributed to the summer and autumn of 2017 - the struggle to harvest crops and silage to feed as well as the additional stress on animals not being able to find anywhere dry and sheltered to lie.

Some farms and crofts never got the fodder they needed for the winter and were buying or trying to buy from a very scarce market. The winter keep that was got was of less than adequate quality. This would need to be supplemented to give the right nutrition for productive stock, not for nothing on the farm costs side of accounts.

More stress on our already stressed stock, again reflected in the fallen stock figures again.    

The much-needed early Spring 2018, which could have helped, has failed to turn up.

I have been to Scottish Government and asked for some additional support for the industry and have an offer of some assistance on fallen stock and pushed government, after speaking with Commissioner Hogan, to get three-crop rule out of this years’ Greening requirements.

I am not telling you anything other than the obvious but let’s teach granny to suck eggs anyway.

What have we learned and, more importantly, what can we do to help ourselves?  Everybody and every business will have a different take on what best suits them and their business, so it’ll be my granny and my eggs we can talk about.

At home, we will have to look at our straw usage, the market is in a different place from five years ago and there is more than likely going to be less straw around with seed either not getting planted or late in going in. We can also try and buy straw earlier at harvest, according to shed space and bank account, or forward book for payment on delivery as we already do with pot ale and fertiliser.

Our silage analysis and quantities will be better matched to ration formulation, supplementation bought and amount of stock we overwinter. Lots of little things first and then maybe it’ll add up to a big difference. It’s all inward looking and being more self-reliant on what we can do best on our farm to make a profit.

Beware though, it’s not all inward looking.  It’s not only stock or the farms that are under stress - it’s the people.  

The Presidential team had a meeting with RSABI earlier this week. More than ever their services are needed to help our people get through the stresses and trauma of dealing with things when it all feels as if it is going wrong. And I make no qualms about reminding people that the Helpline number for this trusted and confidential source of help and advice is 0300 111 4166.

Little things on a bad day soon build up into big things and finding where to turn next seems impossible. RSABI do a lot more than help with financial hiccups.  If you feel you are in a corner, pick up the phone and talk it through with them.  You will be surprised at the range of things they can do, and listening is one of them, no names no pack drill.

The outward looking bit is watching out for one another.  It’s easy to ask how you are, or phone a neighbour you haven’t seen in a while, it genuinely is ‘good to talk’.

Author: Andrew McCornick

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Andrew Moir

2196 days ago

You've packed a lot into a few paras Andrew - well done.
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About The Author

Andrew McCornick

Andrew, who is married with three sons and a daughter, was born and brought up on a dairy farm in Wigtown. Andrew and wife Janice farm their 230+ ha unit with 160 suckler cows and 600 breeding ewes with a small herd of pedigree Charolais cattle. Andrew's sons farm a nearby tenanted unit which frequently provides replacement breeding stock for Barnbackle. For as long as Andrew can remember, he has been a member of the Union, and got more involved when the consultation for Nithsdale NVZ came out. From there he went onto become vice chairman of the Dumfries branch, and then onto his previous role of Regional Board Chairman for Dumfries and Galloway. He also sat on the LFASS committee. Andrew was elected Vice President in February 2015.

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