Over the Gate by Jeff Swift

Farming and the countryside are slowly drowning in a rising sea of regulations and rules largely founded on ignorance.

Country folk could be forgiven for posing the question "Is the government on drugs, the ones that have you churning out reams of regulating devices?"

Could it be that the regulation machines in Whitehall have developed a mind of their own and that the ensuing feverish over-production has become unstoppable? Whatever the reason someone must take control and stop it before it is too late.

Is there anyone where it counts with the courage, the nous and the common sense to put a stop to these absurd rules, or is there perhaps a hidden agenda that we do not know about? I could bear to know.

I am indebted to an old friend for acquainting me with something of great importance that has been in the public domain.

We should all know about it, and I believe you will find it typical of what I have been saying about over regulation.

It concerns a small North of England slaughterhouse, which has to be typical of a great many others up and down the country.

When you read this I think it will become clear why the meat industry has been forced into such decline.

This small company has a workforce of four and believe it or not they had FIVE, yes five government officials overseeing them.

Would you believe it?

I understand it went like this... an official veterinary surgeon was supervising two meat inspectors.

He, it seems was being supervised by a principal official veterinary surgeon.

Now then guess who was monitoring them all? Why, a DEFRA state veterinary service official.

To put it kindly (as I always do), that's an awful lot of supervision for a small slaughterhouse.

What's more, that is an awful lot of cost to pile onto the meat industry, which is still there ...just!

Like I'm always telling you, this sort of situation comes as a result of either an EU or British government directive or both, so common sense does not come into it.

I well remember that meat inspections used to be carried out by an officer from the local council as a public health matter.

Try as I might, I don't recall any great problems in those days.

Then, taking centre stage, came the EU - who decreed that because continental vets did the job of meat inspection so they must in the U.K.

But what I had not told you was that, in the meantime, the part-time meat inspectors from the local council had been replaced by full-time meat inspectors.

So were these meat inspectors replaced by vets? Not on your life.

MAFF decreed we must have both, so now the meat inspectors are supervised by vets as I explained earlier.

Aren't we lucky?

That is why more than 400 slaughterhouses have disappeared in ten years, driven out by having to pay charges of up to #65 an hour for veterinary inspections.

I don't, of course, blame the vets.

I blame the system created by bureaucrats.

One of the worst aspects was that small slaughterhouses, with a low output, had to pay these charges whether there was work for the inspectors and overseers or not.

Then came a slight breathing space when smaller slaughterhouse companies were permitted to be charged only when there was a job for vets to do.

What do you think happened next? The EU found out and, as that was not the way they did it on the continent as it would break Brussels rules, they insisted vets be present at all times whether there was work or not.

Bureaucracy gone mad? I'm saying nowt!

Dialect word: Whisht meaning silent.

Thought for the day: Regulation is never-ending, like a brook.