AS we move into October, and what I see as the start of autumn, many members will be glad to see the back of 2020 and already planting for 2021 and breeding stock will be together to start the cycle again.

Beef prices have seen levels not achieved for many years and lamb prices have been positive throughout the year with breeding sales starting off extremely positive.

It is good to see the livestock farmers having a better year, but I do hope that other sectors also have positive years as the weather is certainly causing havoc for members that are working the soil. Climate change is mixing up weather patterns and we are seeing more extremes which is really hard to work with and plan for. Let’s hope that mother nature is kind so all the winter crops can be sown and we don’t have a repeat of last year.

The consultation on dairy contracts closed on September 15 and I hope as many dairy farmers as possible took the time to complete the online form and let Defra know what they thought about the relationship they have with milk buyers.I know there are some great examples of good practice and there are some that are shocking. We need to get consistency and a better balance of power in the supply chain.

Some businesses will have taken advantage of the loans that government provided, and I know the Bounce Back Loans were particularly well received. It is always very easy to spend money, the challenge is paying it back. I do hope that money borrowed to help keep a business afloat doesn’t turn out to be the reason that businesses fail.

With just three months to go before the end of the transition period, many members are looking to government to give an indication of what the future support system will look like.We are told that BPS will start to be phased out in 2021 with only the first year’s cuts in the public domain. There is no indication of what level of funding is behind the new Environment Land Management Scheme.

I did look back at my column from last October and I could have used the same words I did then. The NFU has lobbied hard for the transition period for BPS to be put back for a year, but Defra have been adamant that will not happen and they are ready to deliver a new scheme which must be up and running by 2024 - the next election year.

We have also pushed Defra to announce what future years will look like and clarity about how BPS will be phased out to help farmers plan for the potential changes within their farming businesses. We are told that there will not be an announcement until after the Spending Review in the autumn. During the past 12 months there has been lots of talk about what ELMS will look like and the only clarity that has come out of Defra is that there will be three tiers to the new system. Given the challenges the industry faces, this is clearly not good enough.To help move the discussion on, the NFU has developed a paper which outlines what a new scheme could look like. The paper is currently being used to engage with government and other industry bodies and gain consensus about what the industry wants to see.