Victor Chestnutt busy with TB and Brucellosis tests

Last month, the festive song I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas turned into a nightmare instead, as the arctic conditions seemed to continue forever. There will come a day when our consumers will have to expect to pay more for their food to recoup the extra costs incurred. This may be something our unions should give thought to if these extreme conditions prevail.

The Northern Ireland Scrapie Plan for genotyping has officially closed, just about two years after everybody else; what a needless waste of money. Thankfully, scrapie is less important as a disease as the theoretical link to BSE and CJD has almost evaporated. It is with dismay the NI Scrapie monitoring scheme has decided to reinvent and tighten up its rules, making a workable scheme almost impractical for sheep breeders here who require to be monitored for exports to the rest of our island.

On the home farm, we are in the middle of our annual TB and Brucellosis tests, desperately hoping we can remain clear, unlike Adam Henson on Countryfile. While feeling for him in his situation, I think this is quite good for the public to see how devastating an outbreak can be and maybe they will change their views on testing and/or culling wildlife in a breakdown area. Let us as a nation accept short-term pain for long-term gain as we attempt to stamp this crippling disease out once and for all.

At a recent meeting on cross-compliance, I was dismayed to hear about a redefining of eligible forage areas with a maximum 4m width for field boundaries with the jury still out on whin bushes, rushes and bracken. My suggestion would be to press the simplify button and allow farmers the opportunity to stack their entitlements on their better ground. This would protect both the landscape and people’s income.


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