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Over The Gate with Jeff Swift

By Gazette News Desk

WHEN I was trying to put together last week's article about some stallions of yesteryear and the routes they followed on their travels, guess what DEFRA's Lord Whitty was up to.

If you are as suspicious as me, you may well say, "Well nothing very helpful to farmers anyway," and you would be right.

The good Lord (Whitty I mean) was busy getting approval from the EU beef management committee to cut payments on the Over Thirty Months Scheme by 20 per cent.

You will recall that this is the scheme that destines all cattle over the age of 30 months to be burnt.

With this, Witty would make sure we received the lowest payment in Europe.

And there was me thinking his government had declared itself in favour of a thriving and profitable agricultural industry.

In fact, that is what they said, so how dare Witty behave in such a fashion. Unless, of course, DEFRA really does stand for Destroying Every Farm Round About.

When people in general read that farmers are compensated for cattle sent for burning, it conjures up in their mind that this means fully compensated.

Don't you believe it; let me give you an example.

About a fortnight ago, we sent in a good big pedigree Limousin beef cow that we were unable to get in calf. She weighed 750 kilos, which is a fair beast.

The compensation is to be £360, whereas before 1996 she would have been worth £1,000.

When Witty gets his way, these sorts of animals would attract compensation of only £290.

Before 1996, most cow beef was exported and as I said only a few weeks ago that the Food Standards Agency was recommending that the O.T.M.S. should be dis-banded but of course it would need doing responsibly, bearing in mind the effect on the beef market.

It is far too delicate a job to leave to politi-cians and their scientist pals.

What a lot we have to look forward to!

There is this Over Thirty Months business; then there is the regulation against on-farm burying of deadstock that has gone on for centuries.

Of course, there is nothing in its place.

Then there is the double tagging of sheep with 14 digit numbers; and last but not least is the reform of the C.A.P.

So just see how British farmers come off with that.

See you next week, providing I can stand all this excitement.

Dialect word: Cockly, meaning unsteady.

Thought for the day: Not all the teeth put into laws these days are wisdom teeth.