Country News: Confidence boost for farmers

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: OPTIMISTIC: Tina Lestercard, West Dorset NFU vice chairman and Victor Crutchley, West Dorset NFU chairman at Powerstock in front of winter housed dairy heifers OPTIMISTIC: Tina Lestercard, West Dorset NFU vice chairman and Victor Crutchley, West Dorset NFU chairman at Powerstock in front of winter housed dairy heifers

WEST Dorset NFU chairman Victor Crutchley and vice chairman Tina Lestercard are looking forward to 2014.

Both farmers are feeling more positive about the future – a feeling supported by a recent NFU survey that reveals confidence was up on 2012 overall but 74 per cent thought regulation and legislation will have a negative effect on their businesses.

A smaller percentage felt input prices and CAP would have a greater negative impact.

All three issues were viewed as harming productivity.

West Dorset NFU secretary Paul Bennett said: “The NFU survey puts regulation at the top of the list. This should give a clear message to the government that it must ease the regulatory pressure. Despite initiatives like the Red Tape Challenge and the Farming Regulation Task Force, farmers tell us there has been little perceptible difference in the burden of legislation.

“Input costs have consistently featured as second on the list of concerns. Defra figures show that farming’s total cost base has gone up by 21 per cent since 2010. Fertilisers and feeds are up by 22 per cent and 44 per cent respectively, with added volatility also recreating challenges. This year, CAP has been added to the top three concerns. The CAP changes including budget cuts and the uncertainty in a new agri-environment scheme are adding to farmers’ pessimism.

“One outstanding improvement, of course, has been the weather conditions in 2013, which produced a very positive impact in short term confidence.

“We need now to look to the longer term to meet the production challenges that lie ahead. If we want our farms to compete in an increasing global marketplace and make the most of emerging export opportunities, we need government action that addresses uncertainty; incentives for consistent investment patterns and produces action to reduce red tape.”

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