Farmer Focus Livestock: Bill metcalf is guilty as charged

Bill and Jonathan Metcalf rent 89ha (220 acres) of grassland, plus moorland grazing, near Barnard Castle, and own a further unit 12 miles away. Farms are stocked with 120 sucklers, including 20 pedigree Blonde d’Aquitaines, and 1200 ewes with 200 replacements

Its official – we have been found guilty of a minor misdemeanor and branded negligent. Not quite on the same level as a former agricultural minister, who allegedly claimed several thousand pounds for non-existent mortgage repayments.

No, our offence was to have two ear-tags come out of a cow’s ear at the same time, which is deemed negligent and suitable for a potential penalty. I wonder what level of “potential penalties” the now long list of MPs are likely to face for their negligence.

For a second time we have had a gimmer lamb killed on the moor by a postman. It seems strange there have been no similar incidences by the people who actually live up there and use the road much more frequently. Needless to say, Royal Mail accepts no liability.

We have been to a meeting recently on animal tax – sorry, cost and responsibility sharing – although the former would be more honest. It would appear Animal Health and Welfare are to be separated. How this is a benefit is difficult to understand – unless the minister needs to keep control of welfare to prevent TB control and any potential badger cull on health and welfare grounds. Surely the experts in charge of animal health have the relevant experience and knowledge rather than a new group to become scapegoats should a disease crisis occur.

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