By Matt Donald, broiler breeder producer, North Yorkshire
Now Christmas has been and gone and I hope everyone managed to have some time to relax after what was a rather unpredictable year! It’s time to look forwards and hope there is a significant improvement for 2021.
I am always wanting to improve our farm’s carbon footprint and reduce the environmental impact of how we farm. But this is challenging alongside trying to reduce our costs of production. Government schemes that are in development to enhance the environment, must also lend themselves to efficient food production.
We have a growing nation to feed and in order for farms to feed the nation in a sustainable way, the price of food will likely need to rise. As the government phases out area payments and moves to ELM, it must be designed in a way to help farmers reduce the cost of production, through increasing productivity.
Constant investment is one of the ways we improve both environmental and financial performance across the whole business, and most of these have been self funded, due to the fact the poultry industry has had limited access to any direct grant funding, other than in renewable schemes. The hope is the ELM scheme will open up doors to aid businesses that don’t have vast amounts of land to utilise.
It is frustrating we know so little about the details of ELM so far. Farming mostly pigs and poultry, we have little land and will not miss BPS as much as many I know. However, we consume a lot of feed, and therefore we still need arable farms to be planting fields of cereals, alongside environmental margin schemes to maintain cereal production levels.
The UK has been declining in self sufficiency in wheat in recent years; if this continues we risk exporting our carbon footprint of food production abroad. We can produce food and farm sustainably, however the focus must be on getting more from existing land and only using less productive land for the environment.