October 2014: Welcoming a new face to the team

I’ve just had a conversation with my builder – an ex-farmer – about how different industries approach the matter of “work”. The plasterers working on the house disappear around mid-afternoon which, considering they’re working on outside walls, seems odd to us. While the weather’s good, why not keep going?

Now that we’ve a sound roof, and only wish to pay for scaffolding, building inspectors and other dead costs once, we’re having a blitz including adding outside wall insulation – I’ve probably watched too much Grand Designs! In my heart I know it’s the right thing to do, but economically it doesn’t stack up; still, not having to paint it is a big plus.

It’s been a steep learning curve and interesting experience for both us and the builder. Part of the process has involved comparing the performance and cost of different insulation materials. For example, 70mm of one type of product is 20% more efficient than 90mm of another, and then when you add the cost of application and covering, which are the same, the extra for the better performer is minimal. So, when being sold a product, thicker is not necessarily better, look at the performance.

By the time you read this, we should have a new addition to the BPEX Environment and Building Team. Thomas Burling is an environmental science graduate with practical pig experience, and as a result, we’ll be expanding our offer and helping those involved in making decisions, such as 70mm or 90mm.

Another area where he’ll be contributing is helping out on the legislation front, especially anything environmental. Next year’s CAP changes, for example, are still an emerging minefield. GEAC guidance is still being developed, and we’re working with the NFU testing drafts trying to get it as user friendly as possible. Andrew Palmer, our new BPEX knowledge transfer manager for the East will be applying his experience to this.

The rules and complexity keep growing, and I know from discussions that the outdoor sector does face some serious challenges from the CAP reform. We’re here to help, so please do ask if you want to understand what it all means to you. It’s a two-way process. Your issues help us when we’re talking to DEFRA and others, sometimes putting a completely new slant on things.

I’m afraid that it does all come down to the detail, and the rule book keeps on growing, despite pledges that it wouldn’t. Just before I started typing this, DEFRA’s Farming Advice Service (FAS) newsletter arrived, and the first thing I saw was new rules for muck heaps from May 2014. They state where you can and can’t build a heap, complete with angles for field slope. It’s too much for people dealing with 101 things to remember and get right.

For those who don’t get it, the monthly FAS newsletter is free and includes timely reminders. You can sign up to it on the FAS website at: www.defra.gov.uk/farming-advice/

> Nigel Penlington joined BPEX in 2004 and is the organisation’s environment programme manager. He specialises in environmental issues affecting the UK pig industry and production technology

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