The Farming Social Hub - a voice for the farming community

Gavin and Charlie chew the fat

Gavin Lane farms 480 hectares across two sites in West Norfolk. He is also chair of the Norfolk CLA branch committee and chair of the national Business and Rural Economy Committee and holds a host of other posts and titles. He listened with interest to all that Janet Hughes – the Programme Director for the Future Farming and Countryside Programme for Defra – had to say about the future of agriculture. In Episode 21 of the Farming Social Hub, Gavin joined a discussion with co-host Charlie Lankfer to talk about some of the issues he sees facing the agricultural sector.

“The overall aim is very ambitious. As farmers, we are being asked to do more than we have ever done in the past. It is not going to simply be about producing healthy and wholesome food, we also have to look at our responsibility towards climate change and our bio diversity delivery.

“I think Janet may be underestimating the challenge ahead and the time frame for doing all this is filling a lot of people with worry.”

Gavin himself has a lot of things in the pipeline for his own farms but he is stalling because, as he says, he is worried about what policies will come along in the future that might preclude him from taking part in new schemes. It is the detail, or lack of it, which is concerning this progressive farmer.

Among the things that are currently causing Gavin to question Defra’s plans are how the financial gap left by the halting of the Basic Payment Scheme will be filled; how the exit strategy will work for people leaving the sector (taking their skills and knowledge with them); and how farmers who work on fertile land be persuaded to continue to produce food rather than putting their land into environmental schemes.

“There are guys out there who are saying, ‘well you’ve told me that you are taking this money away, but you haven’t told me how I can make that money back again.”

“I think Defra have been given a huge job to do in a very short space of time and what they have done so far is very impressive. But we have had ‘announcements on announcements’ and we need more detail on detail.”

The entire interview can be heard on Episode 21 of the Farming Social Hub.

Gavin can be found tweeting @gavlane