Farmer Focus : Alistair Mackintosh

MARCH HASN”T been a goodmonth. Angela, my wife, ruptured the ligaments in both knees on a skiing trip with the kids. She will be in plaster for some time, so that”s me chief cook and bottle washer as well as doing the school run for the foreseeable future.

After a bad start, calving is now about half way through. Ewes are looking well and by the time you read this we should have started lambing.

A combination of diet and what appears to have been infection in bedding has resulted in lameness in fattening bulls. However, we are well on top of it now and bulls are making good progress.

The recent dry spell has probably saved a field of winter barley, which was destined to be ploughed out. All early fertiliser has been applied and I don”t want to tempt fate, but a small amount of warm rain wouldn”t go amiss.

The chairman of the National Fallen Stock Company, Michael Seals, came to Carlisle last month. High on the agenda was the cost involved now compared with before the scheme.

One issue centred around the similarity between prices charged by collectors operating the scheme in our area. We were assured NFSCo is in no way involved with pricing arrangements, which each company had set. Market force was seen as the driving force as far as price was concerned.

Once again, I feel we farmers are victims of market forces because we cannot exert any control. Therefore, I suggested NFSCo should have some sort of accountability to its members and should be more proactive with managing the pricing structure so members receive better value for money.

If we don”t see this happening, I have to question the relevance of NFSCo – once the government subsidy runs out and we are left at the mercy of the unsubsidised market forces – if they are unable to represent their members concerns.