As a result of this governments policies, I fear that many family run farming businesses like ours, will be lost, with a great detriment to the countryside
My farming business, and many others, are still suffering terribly despite the fact that the last confirmed case of foot and mouth disease was on 30/9/01. The business is now being swamped by government bureaucracy.
For instance, when an animal needs to be moved from one farm to another, the lorry has to be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected both before and after, costing a minimum of £20 + trips to the nearest disinfection centre. A movement license needs to be applied for, and there must be a 20 day standstill before an animal is moved from the farm. ( If a slaughtered lamb is to go for export, there must be a 30 day standstill before it left the farm, a requirement unlikely to be met by the majority of farms.)
A new law is likely to be brought in whereby a farmer will have to pass an annual written exam and have an annual farm inspection, in order to be deemed fit to farm.
The governments Animal Health Bill, currently progressing through the House of Lords, would enable DEFRA officials to enter anyones premises, without a court order, in order to slaughter their farm animals or pets, as a disease risk, regardless of whether they have the disease or not.
The 1991 Nitrates Directive will almost certainly be implemented from 19/12/02. This will limit and control the spreading of nitrogen fertiliser and organic manure. It will mean that every farm will have to have adequate capacity to store organic manure, which will not be allowed to be spread during certain times of year, and farmers will have to keep more records of fertiliser use on fields. This will cost many farmers thousands of pounds, which is money they can ill afford to spend. It will also not guarantee the desired improvement in water quality. This is because there have been problems with manure stores overflowing or leaking, due to age and corrosion, and if fields are covered with manure during the wettest times of the year, there will be more chance of pollution due to heavy rain / flooding. The land is also likely to be more heavily poached, when driving across it.
Yet farmers are crying out for tougher controls on the import of foods. They are worried that diseases like foot and mouth could be imported at any time, making our tough controls worthless. We are told that if we want to export, we must allow imports. What sort of an answer is that ?
Conversely, there has been a large increase in the numbers of inspectors at the UK's abbatoirs. While some are no doubt needed, ( over thirty month beef from abroad and foreign beef with the spinal cord still in it have been correctly stopped from entering the food chain ), others are not justifying the large sums of money that they are getting from the taxpayers.
The government is setting a poor example to the general public by encouraging people to buy local home produced food on the one hand, and then feeding the army and navy foreign food.
They are also one of the slowest to pay outstanding amounts, ( I am still owed for a verified claim for slaughter premium from 2000. ) Strike action is being blamed, yet the government encourages businesses to pay promptly, so why can't they ?
Because the government ordered the slaughtering of so many farm animals, there is now a real shortage of replacement stock in this country. Our farms main business is in the finishing of cattle bought in a storelike condition. Our turnover this year has been greatly reduced. In a typical year we will turn over 2000 cattle. This year it will be about 200. There is no form of government help or compensation that allows for this. There is also a tremendous knock-on effect on the local businesses that supply us.
As a result of this governments policies, I fear that many family run farming businesses like ours, will be lost, with a great detriment to the countryside in general. Unfortunately, the government seem blind to this fact, and would rather see UK farming go to the wall, importing all our food instead.