Livestock farmer focus: Alistair Mackinstosh on the neighbours

Alistair Mackintosh rents 259ha (647 acres) of mainly LFA/SDA land from the owners of Muncaster Castle and owns a further 40ha (100 acres). He runs 100 suckler cows, finishing all male progeny and 1000 North of England Mule ewes

Compared to some, we survived the floods with few losses. Obviously people’s livelihoods in Cockermouth and Workington have been completely wiped out and, compared to them, I count myself fortunate.

However, there have been some farmers who have suffered greatly, which could take years to put right, if ever. The clean-up on the worst-affected farms will cost thousands, for which there is likely to be no insurance.

The last of the lambs have been sold and trade has been good. I’m left with a few sick, lame and lazy individuals but, given the improvement they have made in this last week, they’ll be gone before Christmas.

My plan to keep my tractors new and, therefore, avoid any repair bills, has backfired. The loader tractor, the one we need the most, developed an unhealthy noise, which has resulted in a few days in dry dock. I have no doubt a healthy bill will soon follow.

Undoubtedly, it will be down to an operator defect and not the machine and it will be out of warranty.

Paul McCartney and the BBC1 programme The One Show encouraging vegetarianism to save the planet, in my opinion, is the biggest load of rubbish I have heard. Do these people not realise the world population is set to increase by a further three billion in the next 30-40 years and they will all need feeding.

With grassland covering about 60% of the land mass, to be able to convert this efficiently into food will be even more essential.

I’ve yet to see a vegetarian eat grass, therefore to feed the hungry mouths we will need livestock. Lets’ not forget grassland locks up carbon and I believe livestock farmers will be part of the solution not the problem.

Wishing you all a happy meat-eating Christmas and New Year!

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