This Week in Farming: Sugar row, Kaleb Cooper and delinking

Welcome to another edition of This Week in Farming, where we bring you the best Farmers Weekly content from the past seven days.

But before we get started, here’s a question: To what extent is agriculture still a sexist industry?

We asked that question back in 2014, and now we’re asking farmers, both female and male, to answer it again in a bid to track the progress our sector has made in the past decade. Tell us your thoughts here.

Now, on with the show.

Storm over sugar

It’s been another great week for fans of the word monopsony (a market condition in which there is only one buyer) as the pricing dispute between British Sugar and NFU Sugar rumbles on.

NFU Sugar board chairman Michael Sly is the Mick Lynch of this dispute – attempting to hold farmers together in a resolute bloc to give them the best chance to haggle for a higher price.

This week Defra ordered both parties back to the negotiating table after the NFU appealed for government intervention following British Sugar’s unilateral contract offer to growers that set off a storm of protest.

Supply chain pain

It’s not just sugar growers cross with their customers, of course, but other sectors too who have been paid below the cost of production at times in the past two years and want government to take action to hand them more power.

Defra is working through a number of reviews into supply chains, including eggs and pork, but this week the House of Lords’ horticulture committee chairman Lord Redesdale told the department to get on with a promised review of fairness in fruit and veg supply chains too.

He said there was a fundamental threat to food security if UK growers continued to be squeezed out of the market in favour of cheaper imports.

News editor Phil Clarke filled in for me on editorial duties this week and said it was high time there was a culture shift on the part of retailers and processors to ensure everyone got a slice of the cake.

Rule reminder: Delinked payments

If you’re set to be involved in land sales and purchases, new tenancies or farm re-organisations in England, then it’s vital you’re up to speed on what the introduction of delinked payments means, experts have warned.

It’s common knowledge now that annual area payments are declining as part of the transition into Environmental Land Management, but the full ramifications of delinking the payment amount from land area is less well understood.

The good news is that for most businesses, claims are likely to be much simpler than in the past.

Kaleb Cooper’s cider venture

He’s the most well-known sidekick on telly at the moment as the farming brain behind Clarkson’s fame, but how well do you know Kaleb Cooper?

Farmers Weekly’s Emma Gillbard went to meet the man himself at the launch of his new cider brand, to find out what his proudest moment has been to date and what his plans are for the future.

Good week/bad week

It will be difficult in future to best this week’s candidate for farming-related person having a good week: Farmer Billy Swainson.

Mr Swainson rang in to say his life had been saved by a recent article in Farmers Weekly detailing the symptoms of a heart attack.

Had he not read it, he would likely have dismissed the symptoms – when he got them a few weeks later – as something less serious.

We all wish him well for the future.

Having a bad week is Herefordshire farmer John Price – he of River Lugg reprofiling scandal fame – who was caught out by a scam machinery advert and spoke to chief reporter Philip Case about his experience, as a warning to other farmers to stay vigilant when buying kit remotely.

Listen to the Farmers Weekly podcast

Finally, don’t forget the latest edition of the Farmers Weekly podcast with Johann Tasker and Hugh Broom.

Listen here or bring us with you in the cab by downloading it from your usual podcast platform.

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