Kevin Littleboy

16 November 2001

Kevin Littleboy

Kevin Littleboy farms 243ha

(600 acres) as Howe

Estates at Howe, Thirsk, N

Yorks. The medium sandy

loam in the Vale of York

supports potatoes, winter

wheat, rape and barley, plus

grass for sheep

SPEAKING at the Womens Food and Farming Union AGM, Margaret Beckett said: "DEFRA was created to make a real and lasting difference to peoples lives, both now and for the generations ahead and it isnt just a makeover of MAFF…we are strengthening our focus on the efficiency of our services and the needs of those who are affected by our work…we are doing a great deal, both internally and externally, to change the ways in which we operate…we need to think laterally and develop policies out of the concerns for society, consumers, business and environmentalists."

As usual, little reference to agriculture. Generally her speeches are dominated by the subject of the Kyoto agreement and global warming. Now, I know why.

In the terms of a shooting licence issued by DEFRAs Leeds office, Annex 1, Para 1 (b) it states: "No person shall approach, handle or touch cattle, sheep, goats or other ruminating animals, pigs, deer or ELEPHANTS, while participating in the shoot".

My apologies, Mrs Beckett, for thinking this was another classic case of foot-in-mouth. Clearly, global warming is so severe the UK will become sub-tropical before the end of the shooting season and elephants will roam the land. I suggest farmers weeklys free idiots guide for confused DEFRA officials (Oct 26) should have an elephant instead of a cucumber and maybe giraffes and camels should be included next year too.

Driving around the countryside I have noticed another phenomenon of the warm weather – cellular crop strips. Autumn sprays have had dramatic yellowing effects on crops but here and there are 24m x 3m dark green patches. I can only presume that these are unsprayed spots where the sprayerman answered the mobile and forgot to back up after the phone call.

Potato lifting has finished but needless to say the wheat after spuds isnt in yet. Due to the huge acreage of wheat drilled nationally I think I might drill some elephant grass instead.

Who knows, I might even attract some big game. &#42

Kevin Littleboy is off to look for elephants at Howe Estate, having read the terms of DEFRAs shooting licences for farms in foot-and-mouth restricted areas.

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