Andrew Bergin: I still don’t know if I got accepted to Acres even though I spray my crops – it’s so frustrating
Brigid’s Day tomorrow is the official start of spring. To me, as a Kildare man, she feels more like our patron saint than the Welsh, so I’m glad she’s finally being honored with her own holiday.
Among her other achievements, Brigid is said to have been a brewer, so let’s kiss Dry January goodbye by raising a glass in her memory.
A pint of beer is very good for you in moderation, and when it’s locally brewed and supports jobs in your community, it’s even more virtuous.
We’ve had a turbulent few farming years, and more of that is on the way. Not all changes have been bad, and every time I watch the news I am aware of our privilege.
Grain prices are down significantly from the 2022 highs, but are still at historically high levels. Which is just as well, as inflation creeps into all of our expenses and sometimes rages on.
Fertilizers and fuels have gradually declined, but when I did the balance sheets for the past year, I was struck by how universal the price increases were. It’s clear that there is some level of profit-taking going on across the industry, and I’m not confident that this will reverse.
Sales is vanity and profit is common sense. My crop margins were similar in 2021 and 2022 as higher grain prices were offset by higher costs last year.
My approach for this year will be to buy wisely and use wisely. How to sell is another matter; They say it’s hard to catch a falling knife.
No matter how closely production costs are monitored, it’s impossible to know the cost per ton until you see how many tons are being harvested. This makes it difficult to follow the standard advice to sell where you see a profit.
Global stocks of grain shipments are very low and with Ukraine unlikely to be resolved anytime soon, attractive prices could be available later in the year. But we are learning how quickly these prices can also fall.
With the imminent arrival of BISS, CRISS and ACRES, the word omnishambles could have been coined for the changes in rules and regulations that are about to befall us. It should come as no surprise that some farmers are considering going off-grid.
While not quite at that stage, I am very frustrated that there are no consequences for missing deadlines from regulators compared to farmers.
I applied to ACRES last fall and now that I’ll start fertilizing and spraying crops in the spring, I don’t know if I was accepted.
I have requested that borders be placed around fields that already have winter crops and others that are due to be sown in the coming weeks. I don’t know if those margins will be deferred when there are already harvests.
So if I sow, spread and spray the suggested margins I may have wasted time and input and could also be breaking regulations. Can I expect from the department the tolerance I need to give them?
Enough hand-wringing for today. I enjoy more daylight with occasional rays of sunshine and morning and evening birdsong. And I look forward to Brigid giving me an excuse for a beer.
It’s not hard at this time of year to be intimidated by the challenges of the upcoming season, and getting out and meeting people almost always helps. Going to the live events is well worth the effort, even if the sluggishness of recent years has been difficult to overcome.
Studies of aging populations have found that an active social life is a key factor in maintaining physical and mental health. A social life is built on layers of interlocking communities: family, extended family, neighbors, friends, colleagues, sports, church, etc.
Individually they are fragile, but they support each other and give strength and resilience to our sense of who we are. We are fortunate to live in a free and peaceful society. Let’s make the best of it
Andrew Bergin is a tiller near Athy, Co. Kildare
https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/tillage/andrew-bergin-i-still-dont-know-if-i-have-been-accepted-into-acres-even-as-i-spray-my-crops-its-so-frustrating-42319775.html Andrew Bergin: I still don’t know if I got accepted to Acres even though I spray my crops – it’s so frustrating