Farmer Focus: Victor Chestnutt ses red tape grow

Recently we completed our annual TB and brucellosis tests and thankfully both were clear.

Speaking to our department group staff carrying out the test, they were telling me how their job was becoming more seasonal, as farmers all seem to want their tests completed during the winter housing period.

I was surprised to learn an extra department vet has also been employed in our area. I fail to see how this can be justified with declining livestock and the present economic climate in the civil service.

A couple of years ago the Ulster Farmers Union ran a major campaign on cutting out red tape. At the time the campaign seemed to gain support from the decision-makers but, on the ground, I feel the contrary is taking place with one regulation after another being imposed, all leading to inefficiency on-farm.

At present we are doing some final improvements to the dairy unit as we have discovered it has been too open and cold for the cows during the wintry east winds. This will be a lean-to shed covering the open feed passage, also giving a covered area to park the tractor and diet feeder at night.

And as soon as ground conditions allow 1km of field boundaries has to be improved. This involves some hedge-planting and double fencing and some coppicing. The hedge-planting takes the form of a double row planted through a plastic sheet for weed control.

When you read this we will just be starting lambing. Enthusiasm for the job certainly doesn’t grow with age. However, maybe the sight of a few potential good ones will perk us up somewhat. February to May will be the busiest months, so let’s hope for a decent spring, which would ease the workload.

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