It probably seems an eternity since farming was at the centre of media attention, due to the FMD fiasco.
However, we are still NOT able to run our business properly, we are still subjected to rules and regulations and standstills and many other requirements.
I am not saying they are all bad, but some show a terrible degree of LACK of understanding of how farming works by the departments dishing out the rules.
Most of the good rules and regulations are based on common sense, but some are absolutely crushing the life out of those small farms who have struggled through the FMD fiasco and still try to produce their products to high standards.
The latest, is a change that is supposed to ASSIST and HELP farmers purchasing breeding stock or moving breeding stock.
These changes will come in to effect from September 6th.
FIRST SIGN that DEFRA hasn't got much of a clue when it comes to the sheep industry.
MOST of the quality breeding pedigree sales will BE OVER by September 6th, the only major sale left that takes place after this date is the late NSA ram sale, at Builth Wells. This is the biggest ram sale in Britain, BUT it is aimed at the selling of pedigree rams to the commercial farmers NOT to the sales that the people who actually breed the commercial rams NEED to be able to breed the rams. Their sales are through August so NOT covered by these rules!!
Now let's look at this Interim Animal Movement Regime (OH HOW they just LOVE their power and REGIMES eh?).
Excuse me for putting this up but I wonder if any of you would be kind enough to translate this into English and some form of understandable thinking:
"The 20-day standstill remains in England and Wales. But the following will now be exempt - rams and bulls intended for breeding this season bought at a farm, market or sale (As said TOO late for the Pedigree Sales,they only happen once a year). (Breeding rams and bulls bought from another farm are already exempt.
Female sheep and cattle returning unsold from market will NOT be exempt (mmmmmm..did foot and mouth only affect female animals then? NO..well why the need for different rules..doh!).
The exemptions will only apply if vets can confirm certain basic conditions can be met (at #50 a throw!!).
Principally, animals must be kept in isolation units, in a building or, outside, separated from other livestock by stock-proof fencing, AND a DISTANCE OF 50m.
(FOR Christs' sake, on small farms you would NOT be able to achieve this. You would have to keep you returning animals away from any boundary between neighbouring farms by 50m all round, 50m would mean a whole filed in the case of a small farm, therefore these rules means this Government has stopped us (for one) from being able to run our business, and they have the cheek to say it is NOT their intention to finish off small farms!! Horlicks it isn't!!)
Strict biosecurity procedures, set out by DAFTA must be observed. Animals entering the isolation unit WILL trigger a 20-day standstill on the isolation unit. (Pathetic and useless for the pedigree breeding sale season)
Farmers must keep a record of animals entering and leaving the isolation unit. Male animals must be individually identified, although a paintmark will be acceptable on sheep (pedigree ones are tattooed, and double tagged already!!).
Classic here:
Animals MUST be inspected by a vet 14-20 days after arriving on the unit (another #50?..Hey have they bought shares in the veterinary industry??).
Among other changes, sheep and goat farmers will no longer need to apply for individual movement licences for their livestock, they will be able to move them under a general licence (mm..hello?? that's be the case for a while now hasn't it?).
There will be changing in tagging rules for sheep and goats, (yeah rightho, already said the pedigree sheep sector has been tagging and tattooing for years, so what's new?)
Increasing the maximum number of marks that can be applied from two to three. (Whatever)
Movement documents will be simplified into a single standard movement document, which will cover all movements of sheep and pigs (so the cattle passport scheme is to come over to sheep and pigs too..hope they open some new passport offices)
The changes are likely to stay in force until early next year, WHEN A PERMANENT REGIME (ooh that word again) WILL COME INTO PLACE (In other words standstill will remain for ever.
(Further bedtime reading can be reached via the DEFRA (aka DAFTA website that all our wonderful taxpayers paid for,and who will kindly be paying the social security that many small farmers will be claiming as a result of the refusal of this Government to remove the standstill).
As they say "It ain't worth the hassle anymore."
However, I will say this, the patchwork countryside WILL be destroyed as the big farms get bigger, the bad farmers are still farming and growing, while many decent, caring smaller farmers are giving up.
Farms are being swallowed up by neighboring farms as the owners give up, but wait a moment...the Countryside infrastructure is NOT geared up for the increase in farm vehicles and traffic the larger vehicles required by the larger farms (or units, they are NO longer farms). Verges are getting ripped up and run down, the drainage systems are getting clogged by the debris that comes of the narrow banks as the large tractors and agri-business sized vehicles force their way up narrow lanes.
Trees branches are getting ripped down as huge high sided vehicles pass by.
Local councils will have some serious spending to do once roads start collapsing under the growing pressure on them.
What a crazy system!!