Farmer Focus: Murray Garrett - Farmers Weekly

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Farmer Focus: Murray Garrett

AS LAST year”s bull calves approach 12 months of age, I am more than pleased with their progress.

Eight of them are in the top 1% of the breed for beef value and the group is probably as impressive to the eye as any we have produced to date.

Two buyers have already selected their future stock bulls from those on offer. One has returned to take what is now his fifth bull from us. He was bemoaning his luck when he arrived, as a previous Rowden acquisition had just gone off his legs at 15 years of age.

On a more sombre note, as lambing draws to a close, I can reflect on our experiences with the National Fallen Stock Scheme. The more of these articles I write the more I feel like I am becoming the archetypal grumpy old man. But I do wonder what else the powers that be can think of to make us less competitive in the global market.

After lambing 100 ewes, we have lost about a dozen lambs. Each of these costs us 20 collected or 1 apiece delivered to the incinerator, which is 12 miles away and a good hour out of a busy day. Add to this the loss of a handful of ewes over the year and our annual bill for carcass disposal exceeds 300.

As UK consumers tuck into their legs of New Zealand lamb, how many of them give any thought to what happens to deadstock in that part of the world?

 The bush telegraph in neighbouring counties is reporting extreme vigilance by Trading Standards” inspectors attempting to identify anyone not adhering to the letter of the law. Quite what this is costing taxpayers I dread to think, but rest assured it is considerably less than the two police cars and police helicopter reportedly seen shadowing the local hunt recently.

Perhaps foxes should be hounded to ensure they dispose of all their lamb carcasses within 48 hours and in the approved manner.

Farmer Focus: Murray Garrett

FOLLOWING THE Countryside Alliance’s pledge to perform acts of civil disobedience if the hunting ban is implemented, there was an interesting quote from Alun Michael, the minister for rural affairs.

He is reported to have said that the pro-hunt lobby was over-reacting. Some of us might argue that criminalising a traditional country pursuit enjoyed by many and harming no one was the over-reaction. How would Mr Michael react if his own liberties were infringed?

Another example of government’s uncompromising treatment of the rural community was reported to me this week. Three cattle breeders I know of were fined by RPA for failing to inform it in writing, in advance, of the exhibiting of cows at a one-day show this summer.

For this most heinous of crimes, all three have been penalised the full suckler cow claim plus extensification on each animal concerned. I accept that, according to the small print in the SCPS rule book, an infringement has taken place. I also accept that, as the RPA claims, the cows concerned would not have been present on the applicants’ holdings should an impromptu inspection have taken place.

But none of these producers was trying to cheat the taxpayer, all retained ownership of the animals concerned and BCMS was always aware of where the cows were. What other EU country would treat its producers this way?

I, for one, am not relishing the introduction of the single farm payment. Imagine the scope for the RPA to withhold subsidy monies for trifling irregularities then.

On a less political note, my 18-month-old daughter was sick, feverish and would not eat last week. Antibiotics were prescribed, but no help was offered with administration.

After several failed attempts with a spoon, I was sorely tempted to fetch the worming gun. Dosing the stock bull is a doddle by comparison. Maybe someone should invent a crush for toddlers.

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