Farmer Focus : William Slinger 19/11/04

RAMS TURNED out with ewes at the end of October enjoyed an unexpected spell of fine weather for the first week or two and made the most of it.

The local tendency towards Suffolk rams has not prevented there being a significant interest in Continentals this year, particularly with a view to putting them on this year’s gimmer lambs.

Despite a poor summer and early autumn, sheep were in good condition at the start of tupping and we are optimistic for a good lambing. The evident success of last year’s feeding programme means we will be following a similar procedure this time.

A recent visit from the dairy hygiene inspector revealed an interesting take on the sector. In response to the falling number of producers, far from reducing the number of inspectors, it is suggested the number of visits to each farm be increased to maintain their employment.

While I am in favour of maintaining proper standards, there is a limit to how much of this sort of agency encroachment producers can stand before we reach an impossible position. We must be much closer to reaching that situation than many people know. This does nothing to enable or enhance the furthering of necessary agricultural progress and development.

We are now on the threshold of the National Fallen Stock Scheme. The general conditions of membership make fascinating reading. As with so much new regulation, it is largely about putting responsibility on the shoulders of the producer, while at the same time leaving power in the hands of those running the exercise.

It is those in authority’s intolerant determination to separate power and responsibility. This is never a good idea, and is the direct cause of so much resentment and dissatisfaction within UK agriculture.

Until such time as the powers- that-be take a positive attitude to what producers are trying to do, or events force them to take a more positive attitude, I expect this thoughtless culture will continue. Long term we cannot proceed on the present basis of banning everything.