Comment: The EU’s new Green Deal will transform farming

By Charles Bourns, broiler grower, Gloucestershire

At home we had the chicken out on Christmas eve. The first Christmas we were empty for 20 years, so I could go to my son’s and not worry about alarms, which was great. My son had a relaxing day because his free-range birds were all shut in. It was a shame that not all the family could join us because some were in tier 4.

I as usual received our water bill that we pay monthly and I noticed that we had overpaid. Looking into it the Better Chicken Commitment chicken (JA87s) uses only 1.55 litres per kilo of feed, compared to standard birds that we find drink 1.75 litres per kilo. This is something worth thinking about. We have also started monitoring the amount of water used by the washers because last time we had new ones and they use 31,000 litres.

This month I attended virtually the EU Next Generation conference. It lasted two days and there were 1,398 delegates from 64 countries. It was all about the new Green Deal strategy and keeping the next generation on the farm. There were several other themes: they want 25% of all land farmed to be organic by 2030, they want people to eat less meat except chicken, they want to be carbon neutral and plant and 300 million trees, but they also want farms to be profitable to enable the next generation to farm the land.

Member states will also have their own budgets to spend as they see fit. As one French farmer said, the only common thing in the common market was agricultural policy, and even this will not be common any more. The EU has increased the budget by 22 billion Euros to pay for the new policies although it is no longer going to fund meat promotion campaigns.  I think it would good if we had a conference once a year devoted to having agricultural policies set out for the next five to 10 years based on environmental, welfare and consumer demands on our sector.  Now we have a Brexit trade deal it is vital that the agricultural sector is given the same funding in the UK as our (now) competitors in Europe.

At the conference we also had a presentation from a Dutch farmer who has done a survey of his local area. He found there was a market of 250,000 people, then he found out what they bought and he has now got together with his neighbours and they are marketing to this locality. They have open farm days and some locals have now invested in the farms financially. To me, this is a very interesting initiative especially as during COVID people have been buying locally.

I have just ordered my pack of trees from the NFU which I shall plant down the driveway. They are free to all NFU members and it seems too good an opportunity to miss.

We have so far managed to escape AI but only just, as Slimbridge is only a few miles away as the crow flies and we are under the flight path. It is now open to the public again which I find hard to believe.

SWCA is having its conference virtually at the end of March so keep an out for the invitation and attend. It has some interesting speakers and you will be able to enjoy it from the comfort of your own home.

Here’s to a prosperous new year and one where we get back to normal, although I will have to diet to get into my trousers again!

A few months ago I mentioned that the Red Tractor were going to run an advert for chicken using a video on a farm and some recipes well I am pleased to say that they have had the results back and the campaign has been a great success so much so that they will run another this year ,






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