Here is an extract from a BBC report on some Irish travellers who coerced some desperate people into enforced work.

“Brutally manipulated and exploited for financial gain” judge Michael Kay QC said.

While taking the dogs for a wade across our fields tonight, I remembered that quote when thinking about the plight of dairy farmers, and to that matter many other famers in the livestock sector. I wonder how many will now be on less than the minimum wage because of the milk price cuts. I doubt though we will see a processor or supermarket dragged through the courts to explain how they could let this happen.

What though is the answer? In my thoughts it comes back every time to cost of production contracts. Based on the costs of farmers who are in the top third of their sectors, we have to show we are willing to ever improve our performance.

Now Dragons’ Den star Deborah Meaden has been given a lot of press recently with her views on the dairy industry. She, bizarrely, has a picture of me and my son at last year’s London pig demo on the noticeboard of one of her factories in Wellington.

She could help with my next thought and it’s been raised before, we need a Fairtrade logo, or something similar, on British farmed produce that’s been paid for on a cost of production contract.

Consumers, who are generally on our side, could make an informed choice. Her media presence could get the whole thing going; there must be a TV show to help try to get if off the ground?

Andrew Freemantle farms 300 sows on 28ha near Exeter, Devon. He sells 130 pigs a week, with 85 going to abattoirs and the rest supplying their farm shop, pork wholesale business and catering trailers. Andrew was Farmers Weekly Pig Farmer of the Year 2008.

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