Farmer Focus: Peter Hogg - Farmers Weekly

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Farmer Focus: Peter Hogg

While searching for someone”s address I eventually did the unmentionable and looked in Christine”s diary. I came across the following: “Monday – stayed in; Tuesday – stayed in; Wednesday – stayed in; Thursday – stayed in; Friday – went to a farmers” function with Peter, wish I”d stayed in.

“I”ve been accused of not being optimistic enough. Actually, I”m full of optimism. We now have two holiday lets, three workshop units, a show pony enterprise, a shooting syndicate and a microlight aeroplane club.

 What has all this to do with the arable section? The point is that it is becoming increasingly difficult to run a conventional farm simply as a unit of basic production.

I”ve also been criticised for attacking government policies. I think I”ll have to put up with the criticism for a while longer.

 I find it disgraceful that members of the public can go off-roading through any numbers of farms and livestock fields in four-wheel drive vehicles dripping in mud and muck via countryside rights of way, when farmers are prosecuted, in the name of biosecurity, for leaving a mart with muck still on their wagons.

 Likewise, I fail to understand the need for the six-day standstill rule for stock when the public can wander from farm to farm with the new right to roam. Either activity could also potentially threaten biosecurity.

The last few weeks have been very wet, windy and cold. Crops that were looking full of promise a month ago have taken several steps backwards. Those on waterlogged fields are turning more purple by the day and, as leaves are battered down to the ground, some fields, from a distance, almost appear not to be cropped at all.

 Still, no time to worry. A good growing season could be here soon, coupled with high prices. Like I said, I”m full of optimism. lineone.net

FARMER FOCUS-PETER HOGG

FARMERS FOCUS; PETER HOGG

THE CLOSING down of British agriculture will continue with renewed vigour in 2005.

Despite unprecedented rises in our input costs – including fuel, fertilisers and pesticides – Chancellor Gordon Brown still added another 1p a litre to red diesel. We have a barn conversion holiday home that makes, after expenses, 2500 a year – just sufficient to pay the fuel tax on our yearly red diesel bill.

Meanwhile, the government is consulting on the use of red diesel. Could the results see a lowering of restrictions and taxes? More likely the opposite will be true.

Some months ago I was on the NFU parliamentary committee looking at consultations on soil protection.

 At the time I warned we must persuade our politicians to aim this at out of town over-development which sterilises soils forever and the last thing we needed was over-zealous jobsworths giving out prosecutions to farmers with tractors in wet fields. Yet a new battalion of “puddle police” seem ready to do just that.

The ban on the burning of farm rubbish highlights another rule in turmoil, which will add expense to us all. Why can’t this rubbish simply be burned in co-fired power stations for the recovery of energy?

Instead, we are to return containers for recycling, which after shredding will then be remanufactured into new products. Such a process will use even more energy and I can just see the headline in the Daily Mirror “Children”s toys made from farmers” chemical containers”.

After reading a nine-page document on double-tagging of sheep, how will anyone have the time to look after more than about 40 sheep with the record keeping required. Already half of our meat is imported – and this trend can only accelerate. peter.

hogg@lineone.net

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