Elle Seville

Farmer Focus – Elle Seville

Registered Animal Medicines Advisor & Agricultural Sales Specialist at StowAg

I’m not from an agricultural background, but I’ve always lived in the countryside and I grew up with  a small holding. My sister and I started breeding bantams and we had a small herd of goats which got me  hooked! I spent years helping everywhere that I could, gaining experience and decided agriculture was where I wanted to be. Since then, I’ve worked in the Dairy industry; milking, young stock rearing and as a general herdswoman. I have extensive experience lambing flocks across a variety of sheep systems, both intensive commercial systems and more specialised pedigree systems. Nowadays,  I help with our sheep and arable farm at home.  I think having come into the agricultural industry through choice, rather than through birthright, it has allowed me to see from a multitude of perspectives and be able to now advise clients on both successful and less successful farming methods from outsiders perspective.

The phasing out of the RPA BPS payments has left a bitter taste amongst a lot of farming families. This is because, when the industries markets were so volatile, the payments were often relied upon heavily to help them to see a way through. The delinked payments and the removal of BPS has certainly made these businesses tighten their belts and really focus on minimising waste on farm. The future of subsidies on farm looks to be heading in a direction that focuses on sustainability, rather than safeguarding traditional agricultural practices. Whilst this may not necessarily be a bad thing; I think it needs to be done in a realistic and achievable way that doesn’t push already struggling businesses to the brink.

I believe that the SFI scheme has the potential to bring a lot of good to farming businesses that perhaps have land that they previously struggled to make pay for one reason or another, however I do worry that it may be seen as a more attractive option to farmers that are already struggling and drive livestock numbers even lower, meaning the small independent family farms may struggle to remain afloat from a livestock only perspective.  

Information needs to be readily accessible and in a clear and understandable format for any agricultural business that is interested in the SFI scheme to allow them to make informed and correct choices that will be beneficial to them. Over the years, there has been a wide variety of  schemes and grants available, but a lot of farmers that I’ve spoken to have struggled to understand the routes that they need to take, so they just avoid them altogether. It’s about making sure everybody is able to access the support they need in making the decisions to push their businesses forward in a sustainable and profitable way for them as an individual business.

I am an Farming Community Network (FCN) volunteer in Leicestershire which often provides an insight into what is going on behind the farm gates and allows me to gain a more empathetic perspective towards the industries workforce. The past few years have been particularly difficult on farming families with a much heavier emphasis being put on mental health within agriculture, than ever before. I’ve really noticed across the past 18 months that the focus point within the industry has changed. People are no longer struggling in silence and the often-standard practise of ‘just muddling on’ is coming to an end. Certain television shows (I wont be specific but we can all take a guess) are helping with this attitude shift from the general public towards farmers, with a new focus being placed on breaking down the stigma around the red tape, rules and sheer amount of push back that farmers face within the agricultural industry.  I think this shift is definitely bringing about a much-needed change in the way that we support each other within the industry, but also it is shining more light on the often-misunderstood grants and payments made to farmers; something that the general public do struggle to understand.

I feel that the most important take home from the SFI is that if it fits and supplements your business in a positive way and allows your business to continue to grow alongside the farming practices that you currently do, fantastic! It is just important, as it is with any business decision, to look at every angle and outcome.