Lambing has started on many livestock farms. 15th March is the traditional time for conventional lambing when most takes place in sheds to provide a warm dry environment rather than the hail storms of last week! But ewes and lambs are turned out to grass to make way for those giving birth later so we must hope that the recent improvement in the weather continues and there is fresh grass and warm sunshine.
There were rumours before the Budget that tax relief on red diesel might be abolished and that there might be significant changes, even abolition, to Agricultural Property Relief and Business Property Relief for Inheritance Tax. In the event, all were left unchanged. Investment in flood defences and research and development is welcome as is the help for small businesses particularly in the light of disruption to the economy caused by coronavirus.
Farmers are being urged to apply for the Wildlife Offers under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme. The window opened on 11th February and will close on 31st July. Many were put off by the complexity and bureaucracy the Scheme when it was launched which is why the simplified Wildlife Offers were introduced. There is funding available so farmers should ensure that they take advantage.
The rally organised by the NFU due to be held at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre, Westminster on 25th March has been postponed due to the threat of coronavirus. The protest was designed to persuade the Government to put a clause in the Agriculture Bill to prevent imports of food produced to standards lower than those in force in the UK.