Farmer Focus Livestock: Alistair Mackintosh annoyed at cost sharing proposal

Basking in warm, sunny weather is fantastic at lambing time. The only problem is sheep prefer to wait for rain, meaning lambing has been painfully slow. We’ve had some ewes with not much milk, although the lambs have been a decent size and have been quickly to their feet.

In the weather we are enjoying you can almost see grass grow and those that have lambed have been turned out and are doing well.

I have recently done my back-of-the-fag-packet calculations on feeding costs for the finishing of bulls, and concluded it was more cost effective to sell them as stores than to continue finishing them. Unfortunately, I have nothing left to lean on the gate and admire.

Farmyard manure has been spread on overwintered stubble, contractors have ploughed the land and spring barley has been sown.

I see DEFRA has published its long-awaited consultation documenton cost and responsibility sharing, where they intend to impose a levy onlivestock farmers to cover DEFRA’s costs for disease outbreaks.

While we recognise every government department is strapped for cash, thanks to the bail-out of the financial sector, I find it difficult to accept a charge on my business imposed by DEFRA to cover costs of exotic diseases. This potentially develops a treasure chest for DEFRA for what they would call unbudgeted costs for a disease outbreak.

There does not seem to be any recognition within the consultation for costs already borne by the industry. When you account for costs of the last outbreak of foot-and-mouth, costing our industry more than £100m with little compensation, the cost to DEFRA was a fraction of that. The industry must stand firm and resist these proposals with the utmost vigour.

See more