Hello and welcome to This Week in Farming, Saturday’s romp through the biggest and best farming stories from the past seven days.
Here’s five topics that we’ve kept you up to date on this week and a reminder of what’s on this week’s Farmers Weekly podcast.
It had been widely briefed that Jeremy Hunt’s changes to tax and spending plans were set to be painful, and the chancellor indeed raised taxes to the highest level since the Second World War in this week’s Autumn Statement.
Business reporter Charlie Reeve runs through all the major changes from a farming perspective, including a steep cut to the capital gains tax-free allowance and freezes on various other allowances, including the VAT registration threshold.
In separate news, time is running out for farmers affected by the interest rate hedging products scandal to lodge a complaint about how they were treated.
Farmer Paul Davey, who lost about £2m in land and property to one of the schemes, urges anyone affected to lodge a complaint to keep the procedure alive.
Many critical matters may have been overlooked by farmers who went through the FCA review, he says.
Booming cull cow trade
It’s been a remarkable year for cull cow values and the strong trade shows no sign of letting up, with suckler cows currently up 34p/kg on the year despite farmers selling 13% more beasts in 2023 than 2022.
Higher suckler cow throughputs are particularly notable given the English suckler breeding herd started the year 14,500 head down on 2021 following a 2.1% drop to 650,836, says livestock reporter Michael Priestley.
Beef farms are said by some to have higher carbon emissions than dairy herds as they cannot dilute their emissions across both milk and meat.
Yet three National Lottery-funded demonstration farms in Cornwall are tackling that challenge with a series of trials.
Find out what they’re planning to study and why – including experiments with herbal leys, cover crops, alternative bedding and more.
There was plenty of reaction to former Defra secretary George Eustice admitting this week that the Australia and New Zealand trade deals were bad for UK farmers.
Many farmers asked why he did not choose to go down fighting and resign rather than keep his mouth shut in public.
In my column this week, I have a stab at explaining why politicians find it so difficult to relinquish their grip on power – and it’s not just greed.
Beet beats low expectations
It may be wet now, but sugar beet growers are still feeling the effects of the summer drought, with NFU Sugar board vice-chairman Simon Smith reporting yields of 24-120t/ha in early lifting on the Cambridgeshire-Suffolk border.
Our chief reporter, Philip Case, speaks to growers and British Sugar to find out why there had been a delayed start to harvest this season.
Arable Farmer Focus writer Andrew Wilson is another who is busy with harvest of the root crop, reporting better-than-expected yields.
He warns that another subterranean crop, potatoes, are causing him more concern as profitability is in the doldrums and is forecasting a contraction in next year’s cropping area.
Herefordshire contractors Charlie and Dave Blandford are the latest to throw their doors open for our long-running What’s in Your Shed? series.
They tell James Andrews that they’re loyal to dealers, not brands, and they’ve stuck with Pallisers of Hereford since it opened in the early 1990s, which is why they’re now running tangerine-coloured Kubota M7s.
There are also more highlights from the recent Sima machinery show in Paris on the machinery channel this week, including an autonomous handler from French tech start-up ManuRob.
Listen to the Farmers Weekly Podcast
Don’t forget the latest edition of the Farmers Weekly podcast with Johann Tasker, Hugh Broom and Charlotte Cunningham.
This week, they’ll be bringing more expert reaction to the Autumn Statement, speaking to egg farmers about the supermarket shortages and much more.
Listen here from Monday or bring us with you in the cab by downloading it from your usual podcast platform.