Farmer Focus: Frustration at latest supermarket antics

We have been given the TB all-clear and had our restrictions lifted. Compared with some of our neighbours we have only been shut down for a reasonably short time, but the losses are still tough to take.

See also: Read more from the livestock farmer focus writers

We will now be looking to buy in some heifers to replace the in-calf cows and heifers we lost.

The Welsh government is currently considering a new approach to tackle TB. Risk-based trading, increased testing and even talk of badger culls in the most severe areas are all to be considered.

Concrete has gone down on the extension to the yard and muck store.  We now marvel at how we managed with such a small area before. 

Having more room will help management and will have labour-saving benefits over the winter months.

This is especially true over lambing, when we don’t always have the time or weather on our side to be lugging muck out. 

The Welsh government is again consulting on NVZ areas in Wales. One proposal is to bring the whole of Wales under NVZ regulation. I strongly oppose this idea as nitrates are not a big issue in Wales.

At the beginning of the month I attended the Waitrose conference in Telford – we received only one invitation for our household. 

Strong criticism came from Rupert Thomas, the marketing director at Waitrose, for Tesco and its use of fake farms as a marketing tool and how wrong it was. 

A question from the audience followed asking if it was fair to criticise Tesco while selling New Zealand lamb under the Duchy label. Heather Jenkins defended its use on grounds of quality. I am not so convinced. 

Less than a week after the conference BBC’s Watchdog highlighted a complaint about Waitrose ready meals. 

The retailer’s British lamb hotpot and British lamb with mint and redcurrant meals are actually made with New Zealand lamb.  It was stated in very small print on the back of the pack. 

Waitrose say the names relate to the heritage of the recipe. Personally I think this is indefensible. As a Waitrose lamb producer I feel very let down by this type of marketing. 

As I write this I will also be in breach of the latest Waitrose media protocol. 

“Any breach of the media protocol will be taken very seriously.”  Not sure what they mean, but no doubt I will soon find out.

Mark and Helen Williams run 1,000 ewes and 40 suckler cows across 283ha of part-owned and rented land near Welshpool, Powys.