6 November 2001
Have your say, w/e 2 November, 2001

Export ban on Scots lamb

Can anyone tell me why there is still an export ban on sheepmeat (and still also movement restrictions) from the Scottish Highlands and Islands.?

The Republic of Ireland and northern France freely move sheep and export sheepmeat yet they are geographically closer to confirmed cases.

Furthermore, a far greater number of people and vehicles travel between Britain and these places than for example mainland Scotland and Shetland. Why should these remote places be under any kind of restrictions?

Why cant they export direct to the continent by sea – what would be the difference between them and Republic of Ireland in doing this!

Common sense has gone out the window and politicians should be following them from ten stories up!


Action plan for organics

The Organic Targets Campaign is as concerned as NFU vice-president Michael Paske with the idea that the production comes first and the market comes later for the organic sector (No more organic cash, FW 5 October 2001).

This is why the campaign suggests an action plan must be developed for the organic sector so that infrastructure and marketing barriers are addressed before a major expansion in organic production takes place.

Mr Paske also suggested that organic targets have led to the “huge disaster” of surpluses in some countries. However, the campaign believes there is an alternative explanation in Denmark.

In terms of eggs, the Danish organic organisation explains that a major supermarket caused the surplus by changing from a large supplier (who subsequently ended up with a surplus) to a smaller new supplier who therefore had to increase its production.

In milk Mr Paske suggests targets caused over-production: in fact, it was caused by a food manufacturer wanting to protect its dominant market position by encouraging more farmers to convert to organic milk production. It offered higher conversion payments to farmers so that it could supply the growing market. This led to a surplus.

Finally, in organic pork the Danes believe that there may be under-supply next year.

This is a complex area and apparent surpluses in organic produce cannot simply be blamed on targets. Indeed a growing body of opinion believes that an organic action plan with a target is one of the few lights on a gloomy horizon for farming.

Catherine Fookes
Organic Targets Campaign Co-ordinator

30,000 acres ignored

Can someone tell me why DEFRA do not answer e-mails, faxes or pass on enquires when you telephone them?

The latest document from DEFRA titled The South and London Regions (PB 5894) regards the government offices for the 2 Regions, but says no-one is appointed for the London Region to take on responsibilities for any rural or farming issues.

There are 30000 acres farmed in the London Region. Why has DEFRA allowed this situation to develop?


Virus clears up on time for Blair

DOES anybody else think that it is more than slightly coincidental that there have been no confirmed foot-and-mouth cases this month, when the government has been saying all along that the outbreak will be over by the autumn?


Movement ban in clean areas

IN areas that never had any cases of foot-and-mouth, when are cattle lorries going to be allowed to make more than one pick-up to make up a load?

Milk and feed lorries have been doing this for months.


Tractor hours – wasteful

POWER corrupts, and the senseless rule that tractor driver hours be limited is an unwelcome intrusion into the farmers routine (Euro-MPs back tractor hours limit, FWi, 9 October, 2001).

Agriculture both here and in Europe has been tied up with mindless bureuacracy that has led to the loss to the industry of its ability to feed consumers and the wastage of resources


BSE, scrapie, CJD – wheres the evidence?

WHERE is the evidence – as opposed to the supposition, belief or opinion – that there is any reason to be worried about BSE in cattle, or scrapie in sheep?

The trigger which gives rise to nvCJD or CJD in people is still to be ascertained.

Scrapie has been known about for decades and nothing in all that time has given cause for alarm among people living and working among this in all that time except in so far as it affected the health of their flocks. ,p> In spite of all the recent years of research no proof has been produced to support the theory that BSE causes nvCJD.

That they are similar, yes, but that does not mean that one causes the other.


Tractor madness

THE pea-brained nummocks who have invented this totally impractical idea of limited tractor hours have obviously never been anywhere near a working farm or a modern tractor (Euro-MPs back tractor hours limit, FWi, 9 October, 2001).

In my experience, new tractors are extremely comfortable with no vibration at all.

They even have cabs, for heavens sake, with air-conditioning, sound system, air seats and a dinky little compartment for your cold can.

Tractor driving is the cushy job on the farm thesedays.

If seems to me that our short-sighted government and MEPs are hell-bent on the destruction of British farming.

Far better to import dodgy, cheap meat from foot-and-mouth-infested countries, raised and slaughtered and transported under unknown circumstances and sold under goodness knows what label to unsuspecting consumers.

Food produced in Britain is always portrayed as being pumped full of pesticides, GM feed or hormones and imported food as clean and wholesome when the very opposite is often true (eg chicken from the Far East).

We desperately need a British food campaign to save our industry and all the knowledge and expertise we have put into it for generation upon generation.

Buy British and Keep Britain Farming is OK, but it doesnt really get the message across to the consumers of why they should choose British, and that farmers are not bad-tempered, disconsolate and ungrateful despoilers of the countryside.