Farmer Focus Livestock: Victor Chestnutt reviews show structure

Although it’s mid April, my farm in north Antrim still has sodden fields, which is holding back ground work. This seems to be the pattern, although every year we keep hoping for an earlier spring. Silage stocks have lasted out and, hopefully, within the next two to three weeks at least some of the cattle will get to grass.

During the Easter holidays our local roads were congested by the sheer amount of tourists that seem to increase year on year. No sign of the credit crunch reducing the numbers here.

Northern Ireland’s new Focus Farm Scheme has opened with the farms selected. I have been selected with an emphasis on the environmental aspect. I hope it is as successful as the last one and I get as much enjoyment out of meeting fellow farmers.

It’s sad to see the complete scrapping of the Royal Show. I think a much smaller event should still take place. Many shows survive on fewer numbers than the Royal. In Northern Ireland I would love to see a complete rethink of our show structure, with my suggestion being for six county shows and a final in Balmoral. Mid-May in this area is far too early to have stock looking their best without strong feeding in the winter.

Still no word on the farm modernisation scheme. Each time I sit down to write this column I have to stop myself devoting the whole piece to our department of agriculture and its increasing inefficiencies, with red tape for the sake of red tape increasing in almost every area.

With our group staff from the veterinary division being taken out of livestock markets and meat plants, I hear of no redundancies and they seem to be posted on to any issue of farmer harassment.

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