2017 Gold Cup Open Day in Dorset

We at Farm Solutions are delighted to announce that we will be attending the 2017 Gold Cup Open Day in Dorset tomorrow.

This event is been run by the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers (RABDF) and NMR.

If you are attending tomorrows event, have a chat with our Managing Director- Joe Rowe and our local Regional Managers Ian Moulton and Vicky Stark.

If you can’t make the event, see our job opportunities at Farm Solutions here

Busy week at Farm Solutions

It was a busy week for Farm Solutions last week as we attended the Lincolnshire Show for two days and attended North Shropshire College Recruitment day.
We are delighted at the response from the shows. We are looking forward to speaking to applicants and clients over the next few weeks.
See below just a few pictures from these days out

 

Farmers must have assurances on subsidies and foreign labour, say peers

Defra must give farmers early reassurances about a farm subsidy regime and continued access to foreign labour after Brexit, say peers.

Subsidy assurancesThe impact of a Brexit on farmers was debated in the House of Lords on Thursday (21 July), almost four weeks after the EU referendum.

Conservative MP Baroness Anne McIntosh, of Pickering, called the debate amid increasing uncertainty about the effect that a Brexit would have on the UK’s food and farming industry.

John Montagu, the 11th Earl of Sandwich, who manages a small agricultural estate in Dorset with his wife, voted for the UK to remain in the EU.

Farmers and landowners were concerned that the UK government would not keep its promises to continue funding farming to the same extent post-Brexit, he said.

“Generally, I think there has been considerable dismay among farmers since Brexit simply because of the threat to their farm payments.

“The new secretary of state (Andrea Leadsom) will have to persuade the Chancellor that smaller farmers and hill farmers will not be able to carry on unless they are given stronger reassurances of support.

“Owen Paterson said at the recent Oxford Farming Conference that, ‘a sovereign UK government, no longer constrained by EU rules, could actually increase rural payments’.”

In 2013, UK farmers received €2.6bn (£2.17bn) under Pillar 1 of the common agricultural policy (CAP) and €637m (£532m) for agri-environment and rural development under Pillar 2.

The Earl asked: “How will the government ensure that British farmers continue to receive these payments? We have already heard that they may not.

“There are fears that direct payments will be significantly less under the new government because of the continuing need for austerity.”

TB trade barriers

The Earl said livestock farmers in the South West were worried about disease control and fears that trade barriers will be put up against TB, which “remains a scourge of West Country farmers”.

Meanwhile, the fluctuating milk price was a “continual source of grievance”. He highlighted a wide disparity between farmers supplying milk to supermarkets at 30p a pint and others sending milk to companies like Arla for processed milk products with a price “forever in the low 20s”.

Conservative peer Lord de Mauley said a Brexit was an opportunity to see if farming policy could be shaped to “do more for biodiversity”.

Maggie Jones, Baroness Jones of Whitchurch (Labour), warned that the UK government would prioritise funding the NHS and farmers would have to “get in line” and compete with powerful lobby group to “win back anything like the payments they have enjoyed up until now”.

“Currently, 55% of UK income from farming comes from CAP support. In 2014, the UK received over €3bn for CAP basic payments to farmers. It is not pessimistic but realistic to assume that these funds will not be protected in a post-Brexit UK budget.”

Single market access

But Baroness Jones said the real challenge for farming would be whether or not the UK could do a deal to remain in the single market, with its free access to 500 million customers.

“At the moment, 73% of the UK’s total agrifood exports are to other EU countries. Seven out of the top 10 countries to which we export food, drink and feed are in the EU.”

Meanwhile, Charles Hay, the 16th Earl of Kinnoull, said farmers needed clear assurances from government on future access to foreign seasonal labour at a similar cost to now.

Insurance law change will increase burden on farmers

Farmers are facing tighter controls on business insurance as new legislation comes into force next month.

Farm Insurance BurdenThe changes, from 12 August, have been branded as the biggest shake-up in insurance law for more than a century.

Insurance experts are warning farmers that setting up policies will take far longer and could involve all staff across the farm.

The Insurance Act 2015 will enforce a duty of “fair presentation” requiring businesses to provide evidence that they have carried out a more rigorous and thorough assessment of risks.

This could include providing further evidence from third parties like accountants and other professionals the business works with.

Insurance Act 2015

Policyholders will have to ask anyone on the farm benefitting from cover whether they know any material information in relation to the risk.

There will be an explicit duty to ask questions of the whole business prior to renewal, not just senior staff.

All information will have to be presented clearly and accessibly to the insurer.

For example handing over data in an unstructured format will not meet the new standard.

The level of questioning and information gathering required to prepare for renewals may increase significantly.

Third parties such as accountants or IT providers may also need to be consulted over potential risks.

Anyone found to have deliberately withheld the full facts, faces having their policy being voided. In these cases, no claims will be met and there will be no refunds of any insurance premiums.

Famers face greater responsibility

Harrison and Hetherington (H&H) insurance brokers said farmers should be aware that there will be more responsibility on them to share all relevant information with their brokers.

Operations director at H&H, Paul Graham, said that understanding the implications of the new Act was complex and it was vital for all businesses to know what was required of them.

“It’s terribly important that farms and rural businesses better prepare their information.

“It is their responsibility to disclose the information and our responsibility to ask about the business, so expect to be asked more questions when applying for or renewing insurance.”

Although insurance contracts will still be based on good faith, the onus is now on customers to fairly present any risks to their brokers, Mr Graham said.

The information must be correct to the best of the customer’s knowledge, and there is also a requirement for customers to carry out a reasonable search for information to ensure they are presenting the full facts, he added.

Farmers at high risk from skin cancer, warns NHS

Farmers at high risk from skin cancerFarmers and farmworkers are being targeted in a new campaign designed to encourage men to protect themselves from the sun, as rates of skin cancer continue to rise sharply, especially in the south of England.

The new campaign – “Cover Up, Mate” – has been launched by NHS England in response to a massive increase in the number of people suffering from malignant melanoma – with men who work outside identified as the most susceptible.

Latest statistics from Cancer Research show that, since the late 1970s, skin cancer rates have more than quadrupled in Great Britain.

  • Top Safety Tips
    Use at least factor 15 sunscreen – and plenty of it
    Apply sunscreen to all exposed skin – including neck, ears and head
    Wear sunglasses and a hat
    Take particular care if have fair skin, moles or freckles, red or fair hair, or light-coloured eyes
    The increase is largest in males, where rates have increased more than sixfold.

“Farmers, builders, sportsmen and gardeners are all being targeted [by the campaign], because of their prolonged exposure to the sun,” said a statement. “Men are a particular focus because research indicates they are much less likely than women to slap on the sunscreen.

“Sunburn increases your risk of skin cancer, which can develop slowly over time. So while sunburn might feel better in a few days, it may have done long-term damage, which could be fatal.”

NFU South West regional board chairman, James Small, said: “Working in the rough, tough world of farming, we often want to brush things off and just get on with the job.

“But there are times when that kind of resilience can come back and bite you.

“We owe it to ourselves and our families to take the risk of skin cancer seriously. Above all, if you are bothered by something, do not dismiss it – get it checked out.”

The problem is especially acute in the South West, where there has been a 32% rise in the incidence of malignant melanoma from 2009 to 2014 and a 15% increase in mortality, with 284 deaths in 2014 alone.

The counties of Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset and Hampshire all have incidence rates way above the national average – ranging from 40% to 59% above average.

– Philip Clarke, Farmers Weekly

Livestock Event – Birmingham NEC

Livestock Event 2016We will be attending the Livestock Event, the leading B2B event for the UK livestock industry, in the Birminham NEC on 6-7th July 2016.

It’s an essential visit for any farmer, herdsman or individual involved with the Industry.

We will be at Stand BM300 in the Business Management section.

Call in to meet our new Scotland Regional Manager Mark Allen who will be on the stand with us. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have about Farm Solutions Ltd and how we can help you with your Farm Staff needs.

Analysis: Farming’s access to labour if the UK left the EU

Migrant labour plays a key role in agriculture – but could farmers, especially in the horticulture sector, access enough labour if the UK voted to leave the EU?

Under the now-closed Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme (SAWS), more than 22,000 people from Bulgaria and Romania were allowed in to work temporarily on farms.

But when all restrictions were lifted in 2012, that labour force was able to move off farm into other sectors, causing a shortage in agriculture.

Some 29% of growers experienced problems recruiting enough labour in 2015, according to an NFU survey, and some 66% expect reductions in labour availability by 2018, with 43% anticipating labour shortages.

Allowing more migrants into the UK is going to be a political hot potato, though. Whether right wing or left wing, a significant proportion of the UK population is concerned about the issue, with a recent YouGov survey for ITV finding that 71% think immigration has been too high over the past decade.

 

For farmers too, it is a big reason for getting out of the EU. In a Farmers Weekly survey about 20% of respondents who said they would vote “leave” in the upcoming referendum said immigration was the main factor influencing their decision.

Find out how reliant we are currently on labour from oversees, where we could source labour if the UK voted out in the EU referendum and read the views of two growers in the fruit and veg industry.

How reliant are we on migrant labour?

As a sector, farming has a large interest in what happens to the UK’s access to migrant labour. Across all industries, EU-born workers account for just 5% of the country’s workforce, but in agriculture it’s 65%, according to Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures – not including seasonal workers.

It’s not just the labour-intensive horticulture sector that is reliant on migrant workers.

Pig and poultry units often employ migrant labour and a survey of dairy farmers, by the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers two years ago, found that a third had employed migrant staff – with over half from Poland.

The key benefit of migrant labour as opposed to domestic labour is that it is generally more flexible, temporary and mobile.

This is something that is key for seasonal work, according to Heather Rolfe, of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR).

British workers generally want permanent jobs, while many migrants are willing to come for just a few months.

Employers often find they cannot provide the career path from seasonal work that local young people want, Dr Rolfe says, while older workers are often put off by the hard physical labour that farming entails.

 

The EU’s newer members, on the other hand – such as Poland, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Romania – have provided a large number of workers willing to do temporary seasonal work. The ease of movement within the EU and the relative proximity of labour has been a key driver.

However, as migrants have become more skilled and have improved their English, they have tended to move out of the sector into more highly skilled jobs, says Dr Rolfe, although many have also become key staff in management positions in farming businesses.

Even before the EU referendum was announced, the government’s Migration Advisory Committee had started to look towards Turkey and Russia to provide temporary workers.

Farming will need migrant labour. It will need as much as it can get from the EU and will also need to look elsewhere – whether the UK remains a member or not.

What is politically palatable will be a big factor, but what is practical will largely depend on the types of trade agreements the UK could agree if it came out.

Reintroduction of Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme

Many in farming argue that the reintroduction of SAWS is needed, regardless of whether the UK remains in the EU or not.

This has the benefit of not being dependent on either outcome on 23 June, or on any particular trade deal. It could also be opened to workers in and outside the EU.

Ukip agricultural spokesman Stuart Agnew argues that, in the event of a Brexit, such a scheme could include the need for farmers to make sure workers returned home overseas when their employment ended.

How easy this would be to manage is unclear, but there is also no guarantee that the government would reintroduce such a scheme, especially given that David Cameron has pledged to cut immigration by “tens of thousands”.

However, a seasonal scheme may be more politically palatable than other types of labour access since it would be for temporary workers, says Catherine Barnard, professor of EU law and labour at the University of Cambridge.

This does not solve the problem of the need for permanent migrant labour in the sector, though.

These workers would probably be subject to visa restrictions if the UK was outside the EU and no longer signed up to the free movement of people, says Prof Barnard.

European Economic Area (EEA) deal

This type of arrangement is one that Norway and a number of other countries have with the EU.

It gives access to the single market and includes the free movement of people – something that the EU would be very unlikely to allow the UK to opt out of under this arrangement, says Prof Barnard.

It would give the UK access to EU labour in exactly the same way it does now – something that might be politically difficult, given the importance to “out” voters of cutting immigration.

European Free Trade Agreement (EFTA)

Switzerland has this type of arrangement with the EU, which is similar to the EEA deal and includes the free movement of people. As with the EEA agreement, the UK would have access to EU labour as it does now, which might be politically challenging.

However, the EU would be unlikely to want to go down this route, as it is complicated and involves numerous bilateral agreements, says Prof Barnard.

Bilateral free trade deals

This is seen by some as a more likely option for future trade arrangements should the UK vote to leave the EU.

All workers entering the UK would be subject to domestic law, which would mean they would have to apply for visas. This would allow the government to restrict immigration more – something that would appeal to “out” voters – but which could have big consequences for farming businesses.

Recent research by Oxford’s Migration Observatory for the Financial Times found that 96% of EU workers currently employed in agriculture would fail current UK visa requirements.

Visa requirements might be relaxed, however, for seasonal workers, says Prof Barnard, but there would be no guarantee of this.

The right of permanent staff to remain in the UK would be protected under “vested rights” and human rights laws, says Prof Barnard. But people would lose these rights if they left the country and would probably have to apply for a visa if they wanted to return.

All workers entering the UK would be subject to domestic law, which would mean they would have to apply for visas. This would allow the government to restrict immigration more – something that would appeal to “out” voters – but which could have big consequences for farming businesses.

Recent research by Oxford’s Migration Observatory for the Financial Times, found that 96% of EU workers currently employed in agriculture would fail current UK visa requirements.

Visa requirements might be relaxed, however, for seasonal workers, says Prof Barnard, but there is would be no guarantee of this.

The right of permanent staff to remain in the UK would be protected under “vested rights” and human rights laws, says Prof Barnard. But people would lose these rights if they left the country and would probably have to apply for a visa if they wanted to return.

-Jez Fredenburgh, The Farmers Weekly.

Farming CVs: Eight Tips to Writing a Job-Winning Resume

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A good CV is your passport to getting a new job in agriculture – so getting it right is worth a bit of time and effort. Here is our guide to avoiding some common mistakes.
 
1. The name game
When an employer looks at a CV it is pretty obvious what it is. So there is no need to put the words curriculum vitae at the top. Put your name there instead, as that is what you want the person reading it to remember
 
2. Keep it relevant
It may be tempting to list every job you have ever held in your work experience section, but the two months you spent waiting tables 12 years ago probably isn’t adding very much. Cut the clutter and use the space to elaborate on a role that is relevant and which showcases skills that are pertinent to the job on offer.
 
3. Avoid fancy formatting
If you are applying for a job as a graphic designer there’s an argument that you might want to do something creative with the look of your CV. But for jobs in agriculture keep the formatting clean and simple and choose a standard font like Arial or Times New Roman.
 
4. Show, don’t tell
Anyone can claim to be brilliant, but it doesn’t mean that you are. Potential employers want to see what you have done, so rather than tell them you are “innovative” include an example of where you have done something innovative and the benefits it brought. In fact avoid buzzwords such as problem solver, dynamic or motivated completely – they are so overused they have become meaningless. Outline specific examples of where you have shown these traits.
 
5. Keep it clean
Ask yourself does sexybeast90210@email.com really convey the right image to a prospective employer?
Set up a new account if your existing email address is anything less than professional. While you are at it, check out what anyone searching for you online might see on Facebook or Twitter. You might find the need to do some social media spring-cleaning.
 
 
6. Spell it out
Even if the job you are applying for is not one that requires much writing, there is nothing more off-putting than a CV with spelling mistakes. It suggests you lack attention to detail. Given this is your one chance to make a good impression, read it repeatedly and then get a friend or family member to read it too. Do not rely on the spellcheck on your computer as it won’t pick up words, such as there and their, that are spelled correctly but are being used out incorrectly.
 
7. Size matters
Two pages is the limit when it comes to a CV. Any more and you’ll send the person reading it to sleep.
The priority should be on information that demonstrates to the employer that you have the skills they are looking for. There is no need to outline every GCSE.
 
8. Have it covered
A good covering letter can be the difference between getting an interview or not. It should summarise what is in the CV but also emphasise why you are interested in the role and your key strengths in relation to it. It is your chance to tell the reader what makes you stand out from the crowd.

“The Interests of UK Farmers are Best Served in the EU” – NFU

NFU Supports Staying in EUThe interests of UK farmers are best served by the UK continuing its membership with the EU, according to the National Farmers’ Union (NFU).

Yesterday, the NFU Council met to discuss its position on the Brexit referendum, which takes place on June 23, 2016.
The NFU has said that it recognises and respects the diversity of views among its membership and that its position is based solely on an evaluation of the agricultural merits of the case and the NFU is fully aware there are many wider issues at stake.
A statement from the UK farming body said that it will not be actively campaigning in the referendum; it will not be joining with any campaign groups and it will not, in any circumstances, advise its members how to vote.
However, the NFU has said that it is the case that the Electoral Commission rules governing the referendum in effect mean that the NFU will be required to register to enable it to continue to carry out its essential role of informing members of the issues as they affect farmers.
The NFU Council resolves that on the balance of existing evidence available to us at present, the interests of farmers are best served by our continuing membership of the European Union.
Whether the vote is to stay or to leave, the NFU has said that it will always lobby to obtain the best possible deal for British farmers.
Yesterday’s vote by the NFU Council looked at key issues for UK farmers including the implications for agricultural trade with the EU and the rest of the world.
It also looked at the balance of risks of a national farm policy versus the CAP as well as the potential impacts for the wider food chain.

10 Ways to Lessen Pain of Low Prices for Farmers

10 ways to lessen the pain of low prices for farmers10 Ways to Lessen Pain of Low Prices for Farmers

Urgent action is needed by the government to provide farmers with the tools needed to ride out the slump in commodity prices, say MPs. A host of recommendations are contained in a report published following an inquiry by the House of Commons environment, food and rural affairs committee into low farmgate prices. Farm leaders have welcomed the report, saying low prices and poor cashflow are major challenges for the industry. Recommendations published on Wednesday (2 March) include:

  1. Prompt payments

Delays to basic payments are unacceptable, says the report, and risk exacerbating already serious cashflow problems on farms. It is crucial the Rural Payments Agency settles at least 90% of claims by the end of December each year.

  1. Better labelling

Legislation surrounding country-of-origin labelling has the potential to mislead consumers and cause confusion, says the report. MPs found a growing interest in the provenance of food and in British products requires a move towards clearer labelling.

  1. A fair deal from retailers

The committee questions assurance from the retail sector that there is no link between the price at which supermarkets sell to their customers and the price supermarkets pay to farmers. Farmers must not be the victims of supermarket price wars, it says.

  1. Joined-up thinking

More effective co-ordination between DEFRA and the devolved administrations is necessary to prevent unsustainable price inequalities emerging at a national level, the report says. Otherwise farmers in different parts of the UK will be left at a disadvantage to their neighbours.

  1. Working together

Farmers must recognise the strength they can achieve through being part of a producer organisation.

This is particularly the case in the dairy sector, where thousands of farmers are at the mercy of low farmgate prices.

  1. A futures market

Futures markets for dairy and livestock could help the industry to lessen the impact of unanticipated price volatility, says the report. Although such markets are long awaited, the committee encourages the industry to continue working with Defra to take forward work on futures.

  1. Secure contracts

The report says Defra should encourage farmers, processors and retailers to agree more long-term contracts. Doing so would provide predictable income levels to encourage secure financial planning and investment decisions.

  1. More exports

British farmers and producers must seize opportunities for domestic and global market growth.

To be able to trade in a global economy, the agricultural industry needs to look at developing global products or adapting traditional products to meet changing demands.

  1. A coherent long-term plan

The committee says it is concerned that much of the government’s forthcoming 25-year strategy for food and farming will be about developing a plan for England, while also including an export strategy for the UK as a whole. For the sake of clarity, it says the export strategy should be published separately.

  1. A watchdog with teeth

The government should consider urgently how to extend the remit of the Groceries Code Adjudicator to protect both direct and indirect suppliers to the major UK retailers. The committee asks DEFRA to include this in recommendations following a review later this year.

(Source: Farmgate prices, Third Report of Session 2015–16, House of Commons environment, food and rural affairs committee, 2 March 2016).