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.