Huge activity during brief spring sunshine

THE wonderful weather last week got us very excited indeed, as we spent all hours of the day injecting slurry at Tillington.

The maize ground finished, we were only two days away from finishing the grass paddocks when rain again stopped play.

We are now taking solid muck out to maize ground ready for spreading and ploughing in. I hope to use no fertilizer at all on some of the maize ground this year, which will save us quite a lot of money.

I saw huge activity as local farmers were out in force ploughing, cultivating and drilling. We are all so far behind, and it seemed as if spring had arrived, but we will need to wait another week for the ground to dry out following a significant amount of rain; a real pity.

Spring is here now as the primroses are out in the woods and local gardens are full of crocus, snowdrops and daffodils and our plum tree is in blossom.

International dairy prices have responded to the faltering New Zealand production due to very dry weather. With Australian production falling due to bad weather, the combine effect on the international markets has seen prices rise sharply.

This will have an effect on European prices and as we continue to produce far less each month in the UK, the pressure is on as buyers and processors look for supplies. With Tesco leading the way on both white and red meats; vowing to source as much British production as possible, things look a litter brighter for other farming sectors too, especially as ‘2 Sisters’ have now bought the ‘Vion’ meat processing plants with Ranjit Boporan committing to British farmers and retailers.

We do, however, need to put ourselves in a position to respond to this demand for British food and I fear that left unchecked, animal welfare activists will prove to be a big problem.

AHVLA (Animal Health Veterinary Laboratories) the Defra department which looks after animal health has published a report into the incident at Ramsgate recently, where sheep destined for export were intercepted and culminated in the slaughter of more than 40 sheep at the port.

Government inspectors from AHVLA wanted to send the lorry to emergency facilities 25 miles away so that an injured animal could be dealt with. Unfortunately it seems that the inspectors succumbed to pressure from the RSPCA who, of course, have no real jurisdiction at all, and should have been ignored as contingency plans are in place for such an incident.

The report shows how contingency plans put in place for what should have been a relatively straightforward incident, were thwarted at every turn.

Crucial questions are left unanswered ‘Although the RSPCA has no official role at the port, from an early stage they were making objections to agreed contingency plans, making interventions from their legal team and within an hour of a problem being found they had ‘instructed’ AHVLA officers to unload animals at the port, despite previously highlighting the lack of facilities for handling animals’ said Meurig Raymond, Deputy President of the NFU.

It seems the animals were unloaded in the lorry wash area where the lame sheep (out of the 548 on board) and one other deemed ‘unfit to travel’ were shot.

A number of sheep then fell through a drain hole into a well in the unloading area where two animals drowned, and somehow or other another 37 sheep were shot as unfit to travel; the RSPCA then showed this carnage on its website!

We are approaching crunch point with animal welfare groups in this country and what amounts to intimidation.

Farmers in the bovine Tb cull areas are committed to try to do something about the terrible disease which is destroying their herds and infecting wildlife, but are braced for a full assault from so called animal lovers, who are targeting both farmers and the dairy companies which buy their milk.

These groups are encouraged (if not given some form of legitimacy) by comments from Gavin Grant CEO of the RSPCA and celebrities such as Brian May.

There is no measured thinking or debate in this emotionally driven nonsense, and as we face up to the need for a huge deer cull, which according to some needs to be around 50% of all deer in the country in order to protect the environment and forestry, avoid accidents on roads many of which are serious, some commonsense needs to prevail.

Louise and Gillian Bothwell’s herd of 150 dairy cows had no problem passing their annual bTB test at Burton on Trent, and then in November of last year one animal failed the test, with the devastation of whole sale failure in February this year.

The 97 reactors meant that the whole herd is now gone; the reason for the outbreak is believed to be caused by a development nearby which disturbed the badger population.

The task of starting from scratch again (even the calves were destroyed) is a very difficult one, and highlights the need to get this disease under control so that there is some chance of the Boswell’s and all the other farmers affected being given a chance to farm in peace and with hope of future profit.

I read at the weekend of the Primary School in Suffolk which has a project for the children in which they rear pigs for food.

Police were called after animal rights ‘activists’ bombarded teachers and threatened staff.

The pupils have built an eco-friendly pig sty and pen for the three Gloucester old-spot pigs, and preparing their food every day, recording the animal’s progress in journals, developing marketing strategies and devising pork recipes. An excellent and worthwhile project aimed at connecting children with their food and understanding the countryside and good animal welfare.

However, a group called ‘Colchester Animal Defenders’ commented that ‘Children should not be exposed to this sort of thing. These pigs will be slaughtered and eaten and no animal should be used as food. The children should not be taught that meat is necessary or that pigs are lesser beings than humans’.

There is freedom in this country for people with such views, but allowing them to target schools, farmers and dairy companies is another matter.

A tolerant society is one thing, but allowing our collective tolerance to indulge such minority groups whilst they target others should not be allowed.

We have huge problems with some species in the countryside which are out of control, and we have a growing population to feed both in this country and in the world.

Campaigning against farming and eating meat, refusing to manage the countryside, and generally breaking the rule of law, leads to severe difficulties which need to be tackled now.

Gwyn Jones