End of the Road for Small Livestock Farms?

I buy store cattle off some small local farms and always try to help them out with bull hire or dehorning and TB testing.
Yesterday when I went to see some yearlings on one of these farms that is only around 50 acres of old established permanent grass and a reasonable shed, the owners said that they didn't think they will be continuing much longer.
They both work in good jobs and have a nice house, but fear with the end of BPS and no idea of what if anything ELMS will bring them that they can no longer subsidise their suckler cows. Last winter they had to spend £4k on feed for the roughly 40 (20 cows) head they keep as the previous wet winter and drought summers had depleted their feed supplies.
The cattle are mostly native Sussex and while not really a commercial operation as the cows are almost pets to them, they don't normally have to spend much money on anything other than straw and making silage/hay.
This is the second local farm that is also now considering their position very carefully and one has already sold off the cows. They do not want to plant trees on what is an already heavily wooded area and cannot see the point in continuing.
They could rent it out, but it is hard to see who will be interested in taking it on as access is not great and there are now virtually no farmer neighbours left as it is in an area of other small farms which have already almost thrown in the towel.
It cannot be ploughed as it is wealden clay on quite steep banks and small fields surrounded by woods and trees. It ticks every box for landscape and low input agriculture but what can they do to still receive sufficient payments to make it work?

I am sure this is not an isolated situation and taking the money from the retirement scheme will not be possible. These small farms have historically been an important part of the supply chain.
 
It’s been happening a while now though hasn’t it? Loads of small or medium suckler operations reduced or given up. Agents are helping folks plan ahead looking at what pays and doesn’t pay by scrutinising accounts.
Bps pays well sucklers either pay a little or none. Agents advise to get rid of the sucklers even when the likelihood is elms will only replace 30% of bps
I’m not sure the advice is all good
 

caveman

Member
Location
East Sussex.
Add my 20 odd cow outfit to your list Frank.
Although more to do with the body failing and not enough in the job to employ help.
Can get help on a sort of bartering, mutual back scratching basis, but it's getting too much now.
No family interest.
And recalling the state some who have hung on too long have got into in the past...clear up while I still can.
 
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Will 1594

Member
Arable Farmer
Sadly have these small grass farms, however well run, actually made a profit at all in a long time ? It’s a crying shame that these environmental roll models of farms will be flung under the bus . What’s the option to expensive wintering ? How close would they be to arable boys willing to outwinter them on stubble, and feed them treated straw ?
Work out how to get round the t b job
And you can bring 150 here .
used to be done 40/60 years ago all the fold yards had bullocks brought to east for winter to fatten
Most of old open fronted bullock yards will now house humans as many converted into holiday houses etc
We said in foot mouth yeSr it was the start of the livestock reduction scheme ,
They don’t want live stock ,
Just enough to keep the dales and high ground looking traditional for the tourists , many will be glorified park keepers , convert your field house or byre and farm tourists , and pay you just enough to keep job tidy 😡
 

caveman

Member
Location
East Sussex.
Or you could look at it from the point of view of the tax payer. Why subsidies a livestyle choice of farming 50 acres, when clearly in this day and age it isn't a business that can make a profit !

The Miners had the same reality check in the 1980's.

Harsh but true unfortunately.
Why would you think smallholding is a lifestyle choice anymore than I may think having more than one man needs to make a living from is greed and/or willy waving?
 
Or you could look at it from the point of view of the tax payer. Why subsidies a livestyle choice of farming 50 acres, when clearly in this day and age it isn't a business that can make a profit !

The Miners had the same reality check in the 1980's.

Harsh but true unfortunately.
Yes but if they are serious about the environmental issues then these types of farms are very important
 

Hilly

Member
Or you could look at it from the point of view of the tax payer. Why subsidies a livestyle choice of farming 50 acres, when clearly in this day and age it isn't a business that can make a profit !

The Miners had the same reality check in the 1980's.

Harsh but true unfortunately.
Do you think the guys with loads of employees and massive subs are any better off if it goes 100% ? Wages take some finding these days nearly as hard as the employee 😂
 

JP1

Member
Livestock Farmer
I buy store cattle off some small local farms and always try to help them out with bull hire or dehorning and TB testing.
Yesterday when I went to see some yearlings on one of these farms that is only around 50 acres of old established permanent grass and a reasonable shed, the owners said that they didn't think they will be continuing much longer.
They both work in good jobs and have a nice house, but fear with the end of BPS and no idea of what if anything ELMS will bring them that they can no longer subsidise their suckler cows. Last winter they had to spend £4k on feed for the roughly 40 (20 cows) head they keep as the previous wet winter and drought summers had depleted their feed supplies.
The cattle are mostly native Sussex and while not really a commercial operation as the cows are almost pets to them, they don't normally have to spend much money on anything other than straw and making silage/hay.
This is the second local farm that is also now considering their position very carefully and one has already sold off the cows. They do not want to plant trees on what is an already heavily wooded area and cannot see the point in continuing.
They could rent it out, but it is hard to see who will be interested in taking it on as access is not great and there are now virtually no farmer neighbours left as it is in an area of other small farms which have already almost thrown in the towel.
It cannot be ploughed as it is wealden clay on quite steep banks and small fields surrounded by woods and trees. It ticks every box for landscape and low input agriculture but what can they do to still receive sufficient payments to make it work?

I am sure this is not an isolated situation and taking the money from the retirement scheme will not be possible. These small farms have historically been an important part of the supply chain.
Very sad reading. You are also a part of their support infrastructure and that is going fast too; local folks who can help, smaller livestock lorries, vets that are set up for cattle , local ag suppliers for kit , smaller private kill abattoirs etc etc etc

I'm not sure it's the BPS etc that's doing it completely and these days I see many youngsters who are more attracted to electronic things than the great outdoors

Sad really, I'm 58 and spent most of my life working hard and manually on a very small farm to build my little dream. Nothing and I mean nothing can beat the feeling the last few nights with amazing red sunsets, warm air, cattle in stunning condition and the growth and stage of the grass land, hedge rows, trees , cereals (not mine) coming in to ear.

Happily in the SE I can see there still will be a steady stream of new folks wanting to take on and preserve much of that landscape - maybe for their privacy , security and lifestyle ambitions . My hope is there's a route for someone like my Freddie to partner with such people so that he can make a living working alongside them

Reminder to self; I still need to get a little Sussex foundation herd
 

Will 1594

Member
Arable Farmer
Or you could look at it from the point of view of the tax payer. Why subsidies a livestyle choice of farming 50 acres, when clearly in this day and age it isn't a business that can make a profit !

The Miners had the same reality check in the 1980's.

Harsh but true unfortunately.
It would be cheaper to have subsidised the coal job and keep the communities going , than pay out welfare and regeneration of those areas look round Barnsley Rotherham , up in Ayrshire
Funkiness rough areas are some of them , drugs etc and all the doss heads on dole
 

wrenbird

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
HR2
Pretty much the same reasons our few cows and sheep went last year. :(
Add my 20 odd cow outfit to your list Frank.
Although more to do with the body failing and not enough in the job to employ help.
Can get help on a sort of bartering, mutual back scratching basis, but it's getting too much now.
No family interest.
And recalling the state some who have hung on too long have got into in the past...clear up while I still can.
This is the first year of my life without any cattle, watched the neighbours youngstock being turned out for the first time the other week, that was something I really missed.
 
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