Peter Delbridge

15 February 2002

Peter Delbridge

Peter Delbridge farms

162ha (400 acres) in the

Exmoor National Park, near

South Molton, Devon. The

farm is mostly permanent

grass, classed as less

favoured and

environmentally sensitive,

and all above 300m

(1000ft). It is stocked with

800 ewes, replacement

ewe lambs, 60 spring

calving sucklers and their


FEB 1 is the half-way point of winter and it looks as though fodder stocks will be sufficient to see us through to a May turnout, thanks to the kind autumn.

Even expensive straw stocks look as though they will be sufficient, mainly due to frugal use and a dry atmosphere during the first six weeks of housing. I may have bought too much, but anybody can be clever with hindsight.

It is rather amazing to think this small island once controlled one-third of the worlds land area. Now, it seems, we have a Third World transport system, we can run out of petrol in two days, milk in four and meat within a week.

It also appears that for every chap trying to get on, there are two trying hard to stop him.

With little storage capacity for organic manure, necessitating spreading dung on a frequent basis here, I am still thinking of a suitable printable response to the increase in Nitrogen Vulnerable Zone areas.

Apparently this is so the UK government complies with European law and avoids a large fine. Perhaps we should have a more Gallic attitude and do nothing – at least until we can sell our beef in France.

It is only six weeks to the introduction of yet another burden to business – a quarrying tax of £1.60/t. On our builders advice and taking advantage of dry weather around New Year, we have almost completed concreting of a yard.

We have incorporated a holding area and foot-bath pens large enough to treat 80 ewes at a time. This should not only greatly reduce foot-rot problems, but also be finished in time to avoid material cost increases resulting from the tax, hopefully saving about £600.

What has the government up its sleeve next? A loo paper levy?

I cant help wondering what the likes of IK Brunnel would have made of all this bureaucracy, red tape and bodies like the Health and Safety Executive and Environment Agency. One thing is for sure, the Empire would have been much smaller. &#42

With the prospect of a new quarrying tax of £1.60/t, Peter Delbridge is rushing to concrete his yard before cement prices increase.

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