Collapse all descriptions
Farming -Dog attacks on livestock-Farmers failed by "urbanised" Police
Updated: 27 Apr 2013
Dog attacks on livestock increase as farmers 'failed' by police
26 April 2013 | By Olivia Midgley
DOG attacks on livestock are on the rise but industry chiefs believe many more are going unreported because of a lack of farmer confidence in police, a Farmers Guardian investigation has revealed.
Statistics obtained by FG under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act show dog attacks on livestock increased from 691 in 2011 to 739 in 2012. Sheep were involved in most cases, with many being attacked, injured or killed.
But chief executive of the National Sheep Association Phil Stocker said there was ‘massive under reporting’ by farmers and the true figure could be much higher.
Others claimed the increasing number of ‘people moving into the countryside’ from towns posed a real problem because they had no concept of how much damage their dogs could do.
28 police forces responded
FG sent FOI requests to all 51 police forces in the UK and asked them to provide information on dog attacks from January 1 to December 31, 2012.
Out of the 28 forces which answered the request, Cumbria had the highest number of incidents with 130.
The total cost to the industry remains about £1 million, said NFU Mutual.
Unreported incidents due to police ‘failings’
Mr Stocker said: “The figures are worrying, but I think we are just scratching the surface.
“There is very little consistency in police forces throughout the UK in how they record the information, how they respond to calls and how they deal with the incidents afterwards. No one knows what the police are prepared to do so they don’t bother reporting it.”
He said sheep worrying caused a wide range of problems, both emotionally and financially.
“This year when there have been so many losses from Schmallenberg, liver fluke, and the weather, on top of feed shortages, farmers are not in the right frame of mind to deal with another added pressure,” said Mr Stocker.
“It also means some ewes are not in the condition they should be in and will be less robust, making them an easier target for dogs.”
Scottish Land and Estates policy officer Annie Gray agreed many areas were still in ‘recovery mode’ and could not sustain any more deaths.
Dogs owners ‘must take responsibility’
Farming and rural organisations said they were shocked by the latest figures, with the Farmers Union of Wales calling them ‘extremely concerning’.
The RSPCA said officers were often called out to ‘pick up the pieces’ and rescue sheep which had been chased into ‘precarious situations’.
Vet John Whitwell, who has attended a number of incidents in the last few years, said dog owners had to be more responsible.
He said: “Sheep worrying is a big problem in these villages where people are moving into the country with their Hunter wellies and their two Labradors and they think they can do what they want.”
K9 Magazine editor-in-chief Ryan O’Meara said the increase in attacks was ‘further evidence of a small proportion of dog owners failing to take responsibility for the public behaviour of their pets’
Farming - An Agricultural "Revolution" expected if the AWB is scrapped
Updated: 24 Apr 2013
Commons debate over farm wages
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
FEARS that pay for farm workers in Gloucestershire will hit rock bottom is to be discussed by the Government.
Read more: http://www.thisisgloucestershire.co.uk/Commons-debate-farm-wages/story-18788254-detail/story.html#ixzz2RNFNhHZQ Follow us: @thisisglos on Twitter | thisisgloucestershire on Facebook
A debate about the pay of agricultural workers is set to take place in Whitehall.
Ministers are facing renewed opposition on plans to scrap a body which sets wages for more than 2,000
agricultural workers in Gloucestershire.
They have been warned it will hit pay and conditions.
Labour has secured an opposition debate at Westminster over the abolition of the Agricultural Wages Board
(AWB), which has considered wage claims for 150,000 workers in England and Wales for more than 60 years.
The party has accused the Government of driving through the scrapping of the AWB without a vote in the House
Figures published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs show there are more than 2,182 paid
agricultural workers in the county.
Labour's Shadow Environment Secretary Mary Creagh said: "The Government's abolition of the Agricultural
Wages Board will lead to lower wages for farm workers and take £260 million out of village high streets over ten
"Abolition will lead to a race to the bottom in rural wages, hitting living standards and increasing social deprivation
Farming- Farmers tell of their concerns as thousands of sheep died in the snow
Updated: 08 Apr 2013
Farmers tell of snow's devastating impact
6 April 2013
SHEEP farmers have spoken of their concerns for the national breeding flock after thousands of animals were
wiped out by the snow.
National Sheep Association chief executive Phil Stocker said ‘the decimation of breeding flocks on some farms
is going to be a real problem’.
Mr Stocker added: “Individual businesses will have difficult decisions to make about whether they buy-in
“Even if cash flow allows such an option, for some farmers, such as those running hefted flocks in upland
areas, it will not be possible to replace like-for-like.
“I worry many poorer breeding ewes which would normally have been culled will be kept for next breeding
season. This will impact efficiency and profitability well into the future.”
Gareth Wyn Jones, who farms in the ConwyValley, Wales, said it was now a case of ‘salvaging what is left’.
He said: “Just in our small farming community here we have had hundreds of sheep deaths.”
Farmer Frank Jackson, who lost dozens of sheep in snow drifts up to six metres (20ft) near Marton, Cumbria,
said many of the ewes were pregnant.
He said: “This is the first time ever we have lost this amount of sheep. It has been the worst weather for the end
of March for at least 15 years.”
Stuart Mactier said one of his sheep had a lucky escape when it was trapped in drifts for 11 days.
Mr Mactier, who runs 1,800 ewes at Newton Stewart, Dumfries and Galloway, said he was ‘flabbergasted’ when
he and his brother found the in-lamb sheep alive.
Farm chiefs said the lack of grass was a major concern and fear the financial burden of buying-in additional
feed will be ‘overwhelming’ for some businesses.
The Met Office said there is a good chance temperatures could begin to return towards seasonal average next week.
Farming-UK -Livestock Crisis & Spring Crops -Seed Planting yet to begin,will affect food production
Updated: 02 Apr 2013
Agriculture in crisis as spring snow thrashes UK
30 March 2013 | By Olivia Midgley
UK agriculture hit crisis point this week after thousands of sheep perished in some of the worst spring weather
conditions to hit the country in years.
Swathes of Eastern Scotland, Wales, East Midlands, Yorkshire, Lancashire and North East England were
smothered in a thick blanket of snow, with gale force winds creating drifts of up to six metres (20ft).
Farmers made desperate attempts to rescue missing sheep – many of which were in lamb – but were overcome
by arctic-like blizzards.
But there was hope amid the spring gloom as rural bodies stepped up to offer help, with the Prince’s
Countryside Fund setting aside more cash for struggling farmers.
Cumbria beef and sheep farmer and former NFU livestock board chairman Alistair Mackintosh said thousands of
sheep had ‘vanished’.
He said: “The conditions are absolutely hellish out there. It took us three days to get our sheep dug out and we
lost about 100 lambs in all.”
But Mr Mackintosh feared the true extent of the catastrophe would not be known until the thaw had set in.
“This is a national disaster as it is but we will see just how bad things are when the snow melts,” he added. “Now
we need the public to support us and buy British lamb and make all this hard work worthwhile.”
Gareth Wyn Jones, who was working to rescue 3,500 sheep at his farm in Conwy, Wales, said some lambs had
been born frozen to the ground.
NFU vice-president Adam Quinney said farmers were working around the clock to clear roads in order for lorries
to deliver feed.
He added: “It has put an extraordinary strain on the industry after what has been a torrid 12 months of extreme
Farmers on the Isle of Man were battered with the island’s heaviest snowfall since 1963, prompting young
farmers to join the relief effort and help dig out trapped sheep.
In Northern Ireland, helicopters were scrambled to drop animal feed into some of the worst-hit areas in the Glens
The Scottish Government also sprang into action to help farmers in Arran and Kintyre, where thousands of
properties have been without power for days.
It comes as the National Fallen Stock Company urged livestock disposal firms to consider discounts for more
than 10 animals, with the death toll expected to rise further.
Supermarket giant Waitrose said it would send 25,000 plastic lamb macs to its suppliers still struggling to
provide accommodation for lambing sheep.
Concerns are also running high on arable farms, with growers reporting they were ‘way behind’ with sugar beet
planting, but British Sugar said there was still time in the planting window.
Seed manager at Hutchinsons, Colin Button, added if the grim situation continued, growers would ‘have to make
some decisions about returning seeds’.
Farming- The weather is biting the hands that feed us
Updated: 25 Mar 2013
Farmers face a chilling new crisis
Bad weather and the late arrival of spring is delivering a hammer blow to Britain's farmers.
Oldham farmer Aaron Hirst from Wood Farm rescues newly born spring lambs from the fierce wintry conditions
By Cole Moreton
7:00AM GMT 24 Mar 2013
When Alan Alderson opened his front door yesterday, the way was blocked by a solid wall of snow.
“It is an absolute white-out snowstorm,” he said.
Outside in the blizzard, high up in the hills of Cumbria, were 700 ewes that needed to be dug out and fed, if the
farmer could find them.
The unexpected Arctic blast has been a hammer blow to farmers like Mr Alderson, who were hoping for a good
spring to help them recover from the terrible weather of the past year.
“This is horrific winter weather in March,” said the 64-year-old in disbelief. “It is extremely serious.”
His farm in the Pennines is more than 1,300ft above sea level.
The snows have clung on in the hills all winter, but in the past few days there have been blizzards.
“It’s snowing and blowing with gale force winds, and 8ft or 10ft drifts,” he said yesterday.
“We keep digging our way out twice a day to take food to the stock, but there’s one lot I haven’t got to yet today,
because the weather is just too bad to go.
There’s a gale force wind the whole time.”
The ewes are due to start giving birth in the next week, and if the snowstorms continue and the farmer can’t
reach them, lambs will die.
“It’s very worrying.
Not all survive,” says Mr Alderson, who farms with his wife, Fiona, 56.
“We are looking at a very tough time. I
t is emotionally very troubling.
There will be hundreds of farmers like ourselves.”
The number of pregnancies in ewes across the country had already been reduced this season by liver fluke, a
parasite that causes infertility and which flourished in the damp conditions of last year.
Their young continue to be threatened by Schmallenberg disease, which can cause half the lambs in a flock to
be stillborn or deformed.
So far, more than 1,500 farms have been affected.
Meanwhile, the price of lamb at market has collapsed, although supermarkets continue to charge much the same
for the meat.
Sheep farmers are certainly not the only ones in trouble.
Even before the snows came there was a crisis across farming, largely because of the dreadful weather over the
Drought followed by torrential rain in the first half of 2012 was catastrophic for the harvest, destroying crops
worth £600 million.
With their fields flooded, arable farmers were unable to plant as much in autumn as they wished.
Wheat planting, for example, is down by 25 per cent.
Many have delayed planting their spring crop in the hope of warmer weather, but the snows have knocked them
back still further.
The floods left many farmers unable to grow much fodder, with which they would have hoped to feed animals
during the winter.
They have had to buy in feed instead, but the cost has risen by 40 per cent.
The extra costs of keeping going had already been calculated at £700 million.
Then came the savage cold snap.
Animals that should by now have been out in the fields, grazing on free grass, are having to be kept inside or
given feed bought at great and unexpected expense.
Factor in the drop in milk prices and the potential impact of changes to benefits and subsidies, and farming is in
the midst of a crisis that is more widespread even than the infamous foot and mouth outbreak of 2001.
“The weather is knocking the stuffing out of the farming industry,” said Peter Kendall, the president of the
National Farmers Union (NFU).
“I don’t want people to think this is just another story about whingeing farmers.
Bluntly, the last 12 months have
been unrelenting, wet and horrible.
“This time last year, it was 20 degrees and grass was growing well.
Instead, it feels more like January.
It ought to be spring, but out there it feels like winter.
"The grass isn’t growing and farmers are faced with another month of paying for expensive winter cattle feed
and keeping animals inside, as well losing lambs because they are out in this weather.
“I’m already hearing from the banks [involved in] farming not to invest in new machinery but to pay the feed bills.
Farmers feel knocked over by this.”
There are always farmers who struggle and go out of business, but this crisis is also threatening the ones who
were doing well.
“The commercial farmers, the ones whose businesses are otherwise viable, well-financed and well-structured,
are being knocked sideways,” Mr Kendall said.
The effects will last into 2014, he warned.
“It takes a while to put things right in farming.
There are already predictions that this year’s wheat harvest will be lower than last year’s, and that was the lowest
it had been for 15 years.”
Adam Quinney, the NFU vice president who farms livestock in the Midlands, said: “I was talking to a dairy farmer
down in the South East who had a maize crop failure and it is going to cost him in excess of £100,000, on a
The average sheep farmer might have to pay £10,000 to improve the quality of feed, which has been reduced by
the weather, he said.
“These are all big numbers to people who are not on massive incomes.
This will mean they stand still this year rather than earn a living.”
Bovine tuberculosis continues to be a big problem, causing the deaths of tens of thousands of animals a year.
“People who have movement restrictions on their farm because of TB, for example, can’t simply say, 'Oh well,
we’ll sell some cattle to alleviate this.’
They are stuck with the animals they’ve got on the farm,” said Mr Quinney.
“Everyone was wishing for an early spring, and what have we got?”
Snow, sleet and rain was the answer yesterday, with weather warnings across much of the country and blizzards
on high ground.
At Barras Farm, in the Pennines, Fiona Alderson took photographs of a landscape that resembled a vicious
Narnia, and a farmhouse shrouded in snow.
“Husband away trying to get to some sheep to feed them and also check for staggers [a calcium deficiency]
which kills very quickly, unless they have an injection, which hopefully brings them round within half an hour,”
she said in a message later.
“Worried about husband and sheep.”
He made it home safely, as what little light there was turned to gloom; meanwhile, at least one major feed supplier
was having trouble getting supplies to farms in upland areas, because journeys were taking longer and the
drivers were exceeding the number of hours that they were legally allowed to work.
“They are trying to get a dispensation off Defra [the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] to let
the drivers work past their normal hours,” said Alan Dickinson, 55, who farms sheep, cattle and poultry on 250
acres just outside Penrith.
He was keeping his sheep inside.
“There is nothing out there for them to eat.”
On the surrounding hills, however, other flocks were stranded.
“The wind is biting where we are, but just a few miles away it is horrendous,” he said.
“There will be a lot of sheep under snow drifts.
"If they shelter by a wall it can be like an igloo and they can survive for a couple of days, until the farmer digs
But it's knowing where they are that is the problem.
Nobody will be getting them out at the moment, because it’s still blowing.”
He was baffled by the weather.
“Is this what we should expect now?
We don’t have seasons any more.
We’re having winter when we should be having spring.
People are waiting for grass to grow, they’re wanting crops to be put in, but this has stopped everything.”
Farmers have often been told that diversification will help them survive, but the unexpectedly bad weather has
also affected those who took the advice.
People in the Lake District with bed and breakfast operations or campsites are taking just a fraction of the
bookings they would hope for at Easter, the start of the tourist season.
“The majority of their income probably comes from tourism, but one lady farmer told me their camping site was
very poor,” said Mr Dickinson.
“It will be poor this year if it carries on like this.
There’s the mental side of things too.
Some people, it is really getting on top of them.”
He was determined not to go under though, emotionally.
“I expect we’ve paid our price and we’ll have lovely weather in two weeks time.
I’m an optimist.
"But if it carries on like this, and the forecasters seem to think it will, then it will get very expensive and very
Farming - Chinese Crop Production is 11,000 years old
Updated: 19 Mar 2013
Farming has deep roots in Chinese ice age
Some ideas need time to take root.
A new analysis suggests it took up to 12,000 years for people in what is now China to go from eating wild plants
to farming them.
Agriculture elsewhere also took time to flower.
Li Liu of Stanford University and colleagues studied three grinding stones from China's Yellow River region.
They bear residues showing that they were used to process millet and other grains, as well as yams, beans and
The stones date from 23,000 to 19,500 years ago, late in the last ice age.
But the earliest archaeological evidence for crop cultivation in China is 11,000 years old, suggesting that farming
was slow to emerge from ancient traditions of plant use.
That fits with a wider pattern, says Robin Allaby of the University of Warwick, UK.
In the Middle East "we also have evidence of cereals at that 23,000-year point", he says – which is long before
people were farming them.
"Although this period is around the late glacial maximum, there is a blip at 23,000 years during which time it was
milder." Millet and the other food plants could have flourished in the warmth, tempting people to start exploiting
Some of the plants, like the snakegourd root, are still used in traditional medicines.
Karen Hardy at the Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies in Barcelona, Spain, says she would
not be surprised if ancient peoples "knew how to select plant food that benefited their health".
Last year she reported evidence that Neanderthals used medicinal plants.
"We can never know for certain why a plant was ingested, but I think these early people probably had a detailed
knowledge of the plants they selected and used," Hardy says.
"This is likely to have included their medicinal as well as their nutritional qualities."
Farming- Hunger?- Most food comes from farms -The crisis is only offset by expensive foreign imports
Updated: 17 Mar 2013
UK farmers face disaster as 'perfect storm' strikes
Prince's Countryside Fund says agriculture is confronting a worse crisis than the foot-and-mouth outbreak of 2001
Appalling weather has coincided with disease in livestock to hit farmers hard. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty
British agriculture is facing a wider crisis than the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak of 2001, with around 90% of
farmers affected, according to the Prince's Countryside Fund.
The charity, established by the Prince of Wales in 2010, is co-ordinating welfare efforts for families in dire need.
"This crisis is unique because it's so broad," said Tor Harris, the fund's director.
"There have been others in the past but they have affected particular groups, such as livestock farmers.
This affects upland and lowland farmers and even arable farmers, which is something we haven't seen in a very
Nearly every farmer is going to be touched by this over the next year or 18 months."
Farming faces a perfect storm. Appalling weather – 2012 was the second wettest year on record in England – has
coincided with disease in livestock, including bovine TB and Schmallenberg in sheep, which causes birth defects.
On top of this there are commercial pressures, with retailers driving prices down because of the state of the
economy, combined with the cost of animal feed needed to replace poor quality silage due to the weather,
shooting up by 40%.
As a result, farmers are seeing incomes slashed.
According to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), some livestock farmers have seen
incomes cut by more than 50% to only £14,000 a year, while dairy farmers have seen decreases of more than 40%.
In December, the prince responded to the crisis by convening a meeting of agricultural charities at Clarence
He agreed that the £150,000 emergency fund of the Prince's Countryside Fund, originally established to support
projects involving landscape and agriculture, should be diverted to help farming families.
This was matched by £150,000 from the Duke of Westminster, one of Britain's largest landowners.
Donations from corporate partners to the charity, which include Asda, Waitrose and HSBC, have brought the fund
to around £500,000.
Agriculture expert Lord Curry, who chaired the Labour government's inquiry into food and farming after the 2001
foot-and-mouth outbreak and is now a fund trustee, said the problem cannot be overstated.
"We know it's going to affect farmers for this year and next year.
For the farming charities, this has become a very serious issue," he said.
Philippa Spackman of the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Fund, one of the four organisations helping to distribute
"In the past year, we've seen a dramatic rise in calls to our helpline and those are coming from working farmers,"
Small family farms and, in particular, the tenant farmers are being hit hardest.
"The narrative is never just one thing," she added.
"It's two or three coming together … and the situations can be drastic.
Our welfare officer in Cornwall was handing out sandwiches from her car to people who had nothing to feed
We are talking about farmers being pushed on to the breadline."
The concern is that the emergency funds will not be enough to meet need.
"We are very grateful for the fundraising the Prince of Wales has done," Spackman said.
"But we are concerned that if the number of calls continues to rise at the same rate we simply won't be able to
Curry concurred: "What we have is adequate in the short term but won't meet need over the next 18 months."
The prince's fund is calling on the public to help raise the fund to £1m.
While supermarkets are being accused of exacerbating problems by paying low rates for produce to keep shop
prices down, the crisis is expected to lead to price rises for consumers.
The wheat harvest is down by almost 15% and much of what was grown was of very poor quality because of a
lack of sunlight during the growing period. While 90% of the British wheat harvest in 2011 was good enough to be
milled for flour, in 2012 only 10% was of sufficient quality.
This has left food manufacturers having to shop abroad, at the mercy of international markets
Farming -An Early Spring Cancelled- Back to Suspended Animation
Updated: 14 Mar 2013
Fieldwork on hold as blizzards strike UK
13 March 2013 | By Olivia Midgley
FIELDWORK has been put back on hold as the UK sees a return to wintry conditions.
After last week’s Spring-like weather, which provided almost ideal conditions for drilling, spreading and
spraying, the outlook soon changed and brought with it sharp frost, heavy rain, gale-force winds and snow.
Icy blasts and blizzards have gripped most areas of the country, forcing machines to a standstill.
On Monday, temperatures were widely below minus 10 deg C in the morning in Scotland and near minus 13 deg
C in some locations - colder than anything recorded in February and close to the -13.2C recorded back in
January, according to the Weather Channel.
Rob Raven, who grows wheat, malting barley, oilseed rape, potatoes and sugar beet, over 263 ha (650 acres),
near the Suffolk coast, said the Spring-like conditions had brought a massive turn in fortunes last week, but the
outlook quickly changed at the weekend.
Mr Raven added: “Fieldwork was going great with sugar beet and spring barley drilling into good seed beds,
with good spraying conditions too. This hardly seemed possible two weeks ago.
It’s a shame it was followed by rain and snow.”
The freezing temperatures are expected to continue through to next week.
Farming - Defra Secretary Paterson says "British Agriculture would be better served out of EU "
Updated: 13 Mar 2013
Paterson outlines views on Europe and CAP reform
23 January 2013 |
By Alistair Driver
DEFRA Secretary Owen Paterson has suggested UK agriculture could be better served if Britain leaves the
On the day Prime Minister David Cameron finally announced he will offer the British public an ‘in-out’ referendum
on membership of the EU, Mr Paterson said the UK would ‘do a good job’ of making its own decisions on
He told a Farmers Guardian web discussion on the CAP: “I’ve always been clear that decisions should always
be made as close as possible to those who are affected.
I’m convinced that we would do a good job making our own decisions.
“Within Europe the CAP is moving away from pure food subsidy to a more environmental policy, and we are
seeing that in the negotiations it is impossible to impose a one-size-fits-all policy.”
Later, he added that the Prime Minister was already reviewing which powers should remain ‘at continental level’
and which should be at national level.
“I’m completely clear that as we move towards a more environmental policy, these sort of decisions are much
better made at national and local level,” said Mr Paterson, who is considered to be a leading Eurosceptic within
the Conservative Party.
During the debate, Mr Paterson was repeatedly challenged over his determination to push for the removal of
direct payments at some point after the next version of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) ends in 2020.
“I get frustrated with suggestions that subsidies are the be all and end all of agricultural success,” he said.
“I’m convinced that UK farmers will prosper selling top quality produce in the UK, in the single market and
exporting to the wider world.”
“Until 2020 I’m clear that pillar one will be significant.
But given austerity and high food prices, I believe the public will only tolerate significant subsidy in return for
environmental and other public goods.”
Mr Paterson said the Government was working closely with the farming sector to ‘help it improve its own
competitiveness and seize export opportunities’.
But he said: “I acknowledge that there is a particular issue around hill farming where a significant tourism
industry depends on farmers maintaining the environment, and there is vital role for public subsidy.”
But NFU combinable crops chairman Andrew Watts complained that Mr Paterson’s was ‘not addressing the
issue of increasing production, whilst taking good land out of production and into environmental schemes’.
“This is only going to create further tensions between food supply and environmental stewardship,” Mr Watts said.
Mr Paterson also expanded on his plan to use of the Entry Level stewardship Scheme (ELS) to qualify farmers
for the 30 per cent ‘greening’ element of future direct payments under the current CAP reform.
He said using ELS to ‘automatically qualify for greening’ could ‘free-up resources in Pillar Two for additional
He said it would also remove the ‘complex set-aside ideas’ proposed by the European Commission from the
Responding to suggestions from the NFU’s CAP adviser Gail Soutar that this would be an example of UK ‘gold-
plating’ of EU regulation, he said: “We have consistently made it clear that we want to keep schemes simple,
having been hammered by 550m Euros in disallowances or fines, after the horror of the last reform.
We want the schemes to be workable and to deliver genuine public goods acceptable to the taxpayer.”
In his Europe speech, Mr Cameron said: “We will give the British people a referendum with a very simple in or
To stay in the EU on these new terms; or come out altogether.
It will be an in-out referendum.”
He said the relevant legislation will be drafted before the next election and, if a Conservative Government is
elected in 2015, it will hold the referendum within the first half of the next parliament.
“Of course Britain could make her own way in the world, outside the EU, if we chose to do so.
So could any other MemberState
Farming- Antibiotic resistance - Don't blame it on farm animals
Updated: 12 Mar 2013
Antibiotic resistance ranked as one of biggest UK threats
11 March 2013 | By Olivia Midgley
ANTIBIOTIC resistance is a ‘ticking time bomb’ and should be ranked along with terrorism on a list of threats to
the UK, the Government’s top medical officer for England has said.
Professor Dame Sally Davies warned of a rising death toll from the most ‘routine’ operations as the population
loses the ability to fight infections.
Davies also called on Defra to ‘closely manage’ the agricultural community’s contribution to resistance.
While antibiotics are failing, new bacterial diseases are on the rise, the Chief Medical Officer’s annual report
Davies highlighted a ‘discovery void’ with few new antibiotics developed in the past two decades.
In addition to encouraging development of new drugs, the report highlights looking after the current arsenal of
antibiotics is equally important. This means using better hygiene measures to prevent infections, prescribing
fewer antibiotics and making sure they are only prescribed when needed.
The Chief Medical Officer also states more action is needed to tackle the next generation of healthcare
associated infections, including new strains of pneumonia-causing klebsiella, that will be harder to treat.
Professor Dame Sally Davies said: “Antimicrobial resistance poses a catastrophic threat. That’s why
Governments and organisations across the world, including the World Health Organisation and G8, need to take
Last week Principal of the Royal Veterinary College, Professor Stuart Reid, told the National Office of Animal
Health’s (NOAH) fourth food chain conference that policy makers should not be too quick to blame increasing
resistance on livestock.
Prof Reid said any choices to withdraw certain antimicrobials in animals should be based on ‘sound, scientific
He said a One Health approach, which took into account institutional, social and technical factors was also vital.
Prof Reid pointed to a Royal Society report ‘An ecological approach to assessing the epidemiology of
antimicrobial resistance in animal and human populations’which found ‘antibiotic resistance in humans was
unlikely to have come from animal populations’.
Prof Reid said: “The resistance we see in humans is unlikely to have come from the animal population. We
would say there are other sources of resistance like the environment and imported food stuffs.
“There is a range of things at play, but until we understand better what is going on in the food chain, we are not
able to make definitive statements.”
Farming -It's Lambing Time ! Another Year -Different Month- Same Bad Weather
Updated: 10 Mar 2013
April’s cold snap hits lambing
The cold wet weather in May saw lamb mortality rates rising. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Published on Tuesday 8 May 2012 00:00
Although no numbers have been put on lamb deaths this spring, industry experts yesterday agreed that there
had been “considerable” losses in the cold, wet April.
The National Sheep Association’s development officer for Scotland, George Milne, admitted many farms “have
experienced severe problems over the lambing period” as a result of the exceptionally bad weather.
“For anyone lambing outside during these nights of torrential rain, there was a severe impact on lamb numbers,” he said.
Even where lambs had been born in the warm weather in March, they have not been immune to the April down-
turn in temperatures, with many ewes having udder problems in the wet and cold.
Milne added that he had had reports of heavy lamb losses right across the country. Even his own lambing with
his 450 strong flock in a normally milder part of the country in east Fife had been very difficult, with a number of
lambs not surviving.
It was a similar tale from John Vipond, a sheep specialist with the Scottish Agricultural College, who confirmed he
was picking up reports of high levels of lamb mortality right across Scotland.
Most of the lamb deaths were down to hypothermia from the combination of low temperatures, heavy rain and
The weather in the past month had put real pressure on the system, he concluded.
There had also been losses through ewes having prolapses losing their offspring before birth.
Even before the past month’s weather added to sheep farmers’ problems, he said lamb numbers were not going
to be high. This was especially the case in England, where ewes suffering from the drought had not been in good
condition at mating time.
To add to sheep farmers’ woes, Vipond said the problems were not likely to be over as the continuing cold wet
weather was likely to bring more diseases into flocks.
“When it is cold, wet and muddy underfoot, lambs congregate and there is a greater possibility of diseases such
as coccidiosis,” he said.
The current lack of grass was also not helping this year’s crop of lambs, as the ewes were struggling to keep
condition and producing milk under the adverse conditions
Farming -UK- Europe- No level playing field on Sow Stalls
Updated: 07 Mar 2013
Spanish pig farms flout EU stall ban
AN investigation into maltreatment at a Spanish pig farm has prompted fresh concerns over ‘illegal’ pig meat
which could be destined for the UK.
Undercover footage filmed by Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) shows pigs being housed in over-crowded,
squalid conditions, with severely docked tails.
The film also shows bins containing dead pigs, covered in maggots.
No enrichment meant the pigs were continuously chewing at their metal cages, investigators said.
“Bins full of dead pigs being eaten by maggots; piglets lying in their own filth; pregnant sows kept in sow stalls,
so narrow that they cannot even turn around: this is a horrific reality check,” said CIWF chief executive Philip Lymbery.
“What makes this all the more scandalous is that all of the situations noted above are illegal.”
The pigs directive lays down minimum standards for the protection of pigs in the EU and included the partial
banning of sow stalls from January this year.
Mr Lymbery added: “Sow stalls are a cruel reality of factory farming and, as the investigation shows, they are still in use in Spain.
“What use is a directive if we don’t follow it throughout the EU? This footage shows that the Commission must
do more to enforce the pigs directive and penalise those flouting it.”
Farming- UK Red Meat Imports increase and at scandalously high levels
Updated: 06 Mar 2013
Market Bulletin – June 2012
The outlook for UK red meat supplies
The latest industry forecasts indicate that UK sheep meat production will increase in 2012.
Beef production is forecast to decline this year as supply constraints prevail while pig meat production is
forecast to increase in 2012 driven by higher UK clean pig slaughterings.
This month’s Market Bulletin will look at these forecasts in greater detail.
The results from the UK December 2011 livestock survey indicate that the national sheep flock has responded
strongly to improved prices.
This was especially true in Wales where the largest percentage growth was recorded.
There are also expected to be greater numbers of ewe lambs retained for first time breeding in 2012 across the UK,
which will result in continued growth.
The younger age profile of the flock and the continued rebuilding intentions are expected to keep culling rates
The lambing rate for the 2012 lamb crop is expected to be above 2011 levels.
Factors that have influenced this include ewe condition at tupping being reportedly good during the mild winter
coupled with good feed availability, in most regions this resulted in scanning results being better on the whole
than in the previous year.
Increased production will most likely result in more product being available for export.
Slow demand and high costs have limited sheep meat import volumes in the first quarter of 2012.
The availability of cheaper product is likely to result in increased imports from the second quarter of 2012
onwards; this will offset some of the considerable decline in the first quarter, although it is expected that overall
import levels for the year will be down.
With increased exports and lower imports, the supply of sheep meat available for domestic consumption is
expected to be lower than in 2011.
UK red meat balance sheet for 2011 and forecast for 2012
Sheep meat Beef and Veal Pig meat
2011 2012(f) 2011 2012(f) 2011 2012 (f)
289 294 935 902 806 820
104 99 381 386 958 950 -000 tonnes
103 108 174 174 205 220
290 285 1,142 1,113 1,558 1,550
f = forecast
Beef and Veal
Beef and veal production is forecast to fall during 2012 as the reduction in calf registrations in 2010, brought on
by increased feed costs and the decline in the breeding herd, will impact on the availability of prime cattle for
slaughter. In addition, the decline in the national herd, evident in the December census for both Wales and the UK
as a whole, is expected to reduce the number of cows and adult bulls slaughtered during 2012.
There were increased UK calf registrations in late 2011 and early 2012 as the increased farmgate prices and lower
cereal prices have encouraged retentions from the dairy herd.
In Wales almost 9,000 more calves were registered on Welsh holdings in 2011 than in 2010 and almost 8,000 more
registered in the first three months of 2012 compared to last year.
Some increased productivity is also evident with all categories of registrations up despite the lower breeding
With earlier finishing this may impact on production levels towards the end of the year.
Imports of beef in the first quarter of 2012 have been higher, a situation that is expected to continue with total
volumes for the year forecast to be higher than 2011.
Exports are expected to remain stable despite the decline in the early part of 2012, thus accounting for an
increased proportion of production.
This will result in the supplies available for consumption within the UK being lower than 2011 levels.
With regards to pig meat production, the December 2011 census showed a fall in the size of the female pig
breeding herd, offset by a substantial rise in the number of maiden gilts.
This suggests that the size of the UK breeding herd is stable.
In 2011, UK clean pig slaughterings were at their highest level since 2002.
The main factor in the increase was improving sow productivity, which is expected to continue in 2012.
High feed costs, mean that pigs are being finishing at slightly lower weights than last year.
The net result is that UK clean pig slaughterings in 2012 are forecast to be up by around 2% compared with 2011,
with a similar rise in pig meat production.
Imports of pig meat in 2012 are forecast to fall as supplies on the continent are expected to be lower and other
non-EU markets are expected to compete strongly for what is produced.
With increased production in the UK, exports are expected to rise as demand abroad remains strong.
With fewer imports and more exports domestic availability is expected to marginally lower for the year.
Farming- Save the Agricultural Wages Board
Updated: 03 Mar 2013
Farm workers and supporters campaigning to save the Agricultural Wages Board will today
return to the Frome surgery of Liberal Democrat agriculture and food minister, David Heath.
The minister, MP for Somerton and Frome, dodged questions from Unite members when they protested outside
his surgery last month.
They will again be asking Mr Heath why he has decided to abolish the AWB, despite signing an Early Day Motion
(EDM) in 2000 in support of the AWB, which sets legal rates of pay and conditions for 150,000 agricultural workers.
Abolition of the AWB will mean losses worth at least £25 million a year for farm workers.
The South West has 26,000 agricultural workers, with 1,000 working in Mr Heath’s constituency.
Farm worker Steve Leniec, who chairs Unite’s rural and agricultural committee, said Mr Heath should also come
clean over coalition government plans to water down protection for gangworkers under the guise of ‘simplifying’
the Gangmasters Licensing Authority.
Steve Leniec said: “David Heath has recently called the AWB ‘a costly relic of a previous age’.
That’s not what he was calling it in 2000. He has since claimed he made this commitment to the EDM before there
was a national minimum wage.
But the national minimum wage was in force months beforehand. And if he knew anything about the industry and
its workers, he would be honest enough to admit that the AWB is about far more than a minimum wage.
“A clear majority of those responding to the government’s consultation in the autumn on the abolition of the
AWB, including farmers and farm workers, disagree with him and the government.
He’s not listening to the industry and he’s not listening to his constituents.
We hope he’ll listen to us today.”
Unite members will be protesting from 10am outside the minister’s local surgery at Church Hill House, 17 Bath Street, Frome, BA11 1DN
Farming- Farms produce food but not sucessors-Farmers never stop learning but work 24/7 for peanuts
Updated: 02 Feb 2013
Milk price not the main reason farmers exit industry
AN investigation into the real drivers of change within dairy farming has dispelled some commonly-held myths.
Not least among them are that milk price is not the main driver for people exiting the industry – and nor are larger
units forcing smaller ones out.
AHDB/DairyCo analyst Patty Clayton said the report, commissioned by DairyCo from Andersons and Nottingham
University, also showed the UK dairy industry is by no means unique.
“The rate of change in the UK is about average for the 15 original EU accession states,” said Ms Clayton.
Looking at herd size, she said while larger units had the potential to make a higher level of profits, they did not necessarily do so.
“They do not unilaterally receive a higher milk price and are not in a position to influence the market,” she said.
“There is a range of profit levels among farms of all herd sizes, which is more a function of management than of size.”
“While milk price is an important and high profile economic indicator, it is only one of the influencing factors on
business profitability and no significant link was found between milk price and the rate of exit.
Producers receiving a higher milk price were not found to be any more likely to expand.”
The main finding of the report, out this week, was any producer’s decision to expand, contract or leave the
industry was based on a range of both economic and social factors.
One the biggest was the presence, or otherwise,of a successor.
Cost levels were, however, found to be a major driver influencing decision-making as they account for most variation in profit.
However, while farms with high levels of profit were more inclined to consider expansion, farms with low profit
levels were just as likely to expand as to exit the industry
Farming- Farm Workers get a brief respite from Lords on their Wages Board
Updated: 19 Jan 2013
House of Lords closes gate on Govt cuts to farm workers wages
by Pete Murray - 18th January 2013, 7.15 GMT
Unite has welcomed the House of Lords decision to put a temporary hold on the abolition of the Agricultural
Wages Board (AWB) which determines the incomes of around 150,000 agricultural workers in England and Wales.
(Pictured: Westminster lobby against abolition of AWB, December 2012)
Peers voted yesterday (Thursday) to put the proposal to further scrutiny by the whole House at the end of
February or early March.
Unite national officer for agriculture Julia Long said: “We applaud the intervention of those peers that did not want
a large swathe of the agricultural workforce reduced to poverty wages.
“The government has behaved in a shambolic way in tacking on an amendment that will have a huge impact on
the rural economy onto a business bill – the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill.
“Many peers are angry at both the government’s plan to reduce rural workers’ livelihoods and the underhand manner it is being done.
“A brake has been put on the government’s pernicious proposal.
“There is still time to mobilise enough parliamentary support to halt the AWB’s abolition which has set agricultural
workers’ pay since the Second World War.”
Farming remains one of the most dangerous and accident-prone industries in the UK.
The minimum wage for farm workers in England and Wales is currently set at just 2p above the NMW of £6.19 per hour.
It is estimated that one third of farm workers live in tied housing.
60% of responses to the government’s consultation on the future of the AWB were in favour of retention.
Unite says the supermarket giants and agribusiness have been lobbying to scrap the AWB as a way of cutting
labour costs across the food industry.
Farming - Remember only Ruminants eat Grass and only tough Ruminants eat Rough Grass
Updated: 07 Jan 2013
UK agricultural land use and economic importance
Current UK agricultural land use
About 28 per cent of the UK agricultural area is associated with arable
cropping, including fallow land, and about 67 per cent with grassland,mostly permanent pastures.
Farm woodland and other land occupies about 6 per cent of the total agricultural area.
In 2002, 8.7 million ha (42 per cent of the agricultural area) of UK upland, defined as land more than 240m above
sea level, was classed as "less favoured". (Rough )
These areas as regarded as disadvantaged from an agricultural and economic perspective and are mostly
grazed for extensive agricultural production.
Farmers there have received additional income support (Defra, 2002).
Farming- UK Agriculture and Land Use
Updated: 07 Jan 2013
UK Agriculture and Land Use
a b s t r a c t
Agriculture is the largest type of land use in the UK, accounting for about 77 per cent of the total area,
compared with an average 50 per cent for the EU27.
But in common with most high-income countries,agriculture’s contribution to UK GDP and employment is low,
at about 0.5 and 1.8 per cent, respectively,although the regional importance of the sector (and its associated food and farming industries) varies considerably.
Of the 17.5 million ha used for agriculture, about 28 per cent is allocated to crops, and 67 per cent
The grassland includes 4.4 million ha of sole-owned rough grazing and 1.1 million ha of
common land in mainly upland “disadvantaged areas,” primarily used for beef and sheep production.
This has a major influence on land use, especially in the northern and western parts of the UK.
From the 1930s until the mid-1980s, UK policy promoted increases in agricultural productivity to feed
the nation from its own resources.
An array of income and production support measures encouraged intensive farming, including a relative switch to arable farming in eastern areas.
Since the early-1990s,policies have sought simultaneously to makeUKagriculture internationally competitive and environmentally benign.
These policies, evident in the Agenda 2000 Reforms of the Common Agricultural Policy, point
the way forward for the future.
It is likely that a greater distinction will emerge between policies to protect natural resources and enhance the
flow of non-market ecosystem services from rural land, and agriculture and food policies intended to encourage
an appropriate proportion of national food requirements to be met from domestic sources.
It seems likely that over the next 50 years, the UK’s land area will be required to deliver an increasingly
diverse range of private and public goods to meet growing human needs and aspirations.
This will require a balance of policy-driven goals and market forces.
It will also need a much improved understanding of the trade-offs between food production and environmental
goals and of the institutional arrangements required to achieve a balance of economic, social and environmental outcomes.
ฉ 2009 Queen’s Printer and Controller of HMSO. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Farming-Farmers,Food & the Future
Updated: 07 Jan 2013
Chatham House wants us to eat grass as livestock are inefficient
Ecologist wants to “re-brand” farmers as “Food Producers
( ? and fishermen as Cod Catchers)
Farming Farmers Food & the Future
By The Radical
There is much twaddle being spouted about farming, including the suggestion that we should change the farmers name to food producer.
On the same basis we should call fisherman cod catchers?
For brevity let me tell you what I said in a petition the Scottish Parliament Agricultural Committee in 2001, in the hope that my message then does not fall on deaf ears again.
I will let you judge, as I withdrew the Petition through lack of support, and I suspect the same would be the case from the English MP’s Agriculture Committee
"A) Appoint a Minister for Food
B) Recognise that food production is an issue that should not be regarded solely regarded as a rural affair.
C) Look at other countries to find new ways of supporting (Scottish) farmers
D) Acknowledge that its ( Parliaments) negotiating position in Brussels needs to be reviewed.
Yet what I failed to add then and which is so relevant today :-
E ) To determine how support for farmers ends up in the pockets, as profit for Supermarkets.
F) Remind the populous that most food comes from farms
G) That over 50% of land in the UK is suitable only for grass production which can only be fed to ruminants.
H) There is no such thing as In-Organic Farming
I) Growing food on land is much of a lottery as it is all according to the weather.
J) Where crops fail the population starves."
Farming- Kicking the Wages Board out from under the Peasants
Updated: 04 Jan 2013
Farm workers and campaigners are expected to protest this morning against Coalition government plans to
scrap the panel which sets the wages of tens of thousands of workers in the £95bn a year UK agriculture industry.
(Pictured: Unite lobby of parliament over abolition of wages board, December 2012)
Unite says the abolition of the Agricultural Wages Board for England and Wales is simply an attempt to cut labour
costs at a time when the industry establishment says it is facing a £1.3bn ‘black hole’ as a result of poor weather conditions during 2012.
This morning’s protest, outside the annual Oxford Farming Conference, is timed to coincide with a speech by the
Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, who is expected to implement the abolition of the AWB, in favour of what
ministers describe as a ‘more flexible’ approach to setting the wages of up to 140,000 workers in the industry.
Unite national officer for agriculture, Julia Long said: “The Oxford demonstration is designed to show Owen
Paterson that agricultural workers are very angry at what they see as a sustained attack on their living standards
by a government that has sold out to the interests of agri-business.
“The announcement of the AWB’s scrapping in England and Wales, sneaked out just before Christmas, will hit
the incomes of 140,000 agricultural workers, destroying a protection that they have enjoyed since the First World War.
“This is the shabby benchmark of the coalition government.”
The 2-day Oxford conference is sponsored by Waitrose, Macdonalds, M&S and the vehicle and equipment giant Massey Ferguson, among others.
This morning’s session is expected to focus on the Coalition government’s agenda for reform of EU agriculture policy.
Unite says supermarkets and the major growers who supply them were behind moves to abolish the AWB in order to cut labour costs.
A separate structure exists for setting the wages of farm workers in Scotland and Northern Ireland
Farming - Rural Food Producing Businesses Battered by Extreme Weather in 2012
Updated: 02 Jan 2013
Rural business battered by the year’s extreme weather
THIS year was literally a show stopper and a season many on the show circuit will want to forget.
Months of rain led to the wettest summer on record and forced the cancellation of dozens of agricultural events
up and down the country.
The abysmal summer is estimated to have cost the rural economy hundreds of millions of pounds and left a sour
taste in the mouths of producers, traders, exhibitors and event organisers across the UK.
Charles Trotman, head of rural business development at the Country Land and Business Association (CLA),
said the figure could have hit £300 million in losses and caused scores of businesses to collapse as a result of
lost trade due to show cancellations.
He said: “A lot of small traders depend on show season and some have gone under because they have not been
able to generate income and a lot do not have insurance.
“If it is pouring rain people do not stop and browse round stalls.
If a trader has prepared food for a show and it is cancelled, then they have no outlet for their product and are left at a financial loss.”
The cancellation of shows and other rural events alone, such as the Badminton Horse Trials, costs millions.
Even shows which have traditionally withstood the worst the weather had to throw in the towel.
The Great Yorkshire Show was abandoned after the first day due to safety concerns – the first time the event has
been called off due to the weather.
Organisers of the Suffolk Show had to pull the event’s plug after the first day due to extreme weather conditions,
including gale force nine winds.
Suffolk show director David Nunn said cancelling the show was one of the most emotional and difficult
decisions he has had to make, but could not have risked someone being injured or killed.
He said: “We would never, ever have forgiven ourselves if, being in possession of that knowledge, we allowed
people on site and a child was killed by a falling gazebo or flag pole.
“It is not what I wanted to do but we had to do it.”
The wind also wreaked havoc at the Royal Cornwall Show, which went ahead despite the entire sheep section
being evacuated on the Thursday night.
Exhibitors said the marquee’s sides were completely decimated by the 60mph winds and the entire structure threatened to collapse.
Heavy rain leading up to and during the four-day Royal Highland event in June resulted in a loss of more than 60
per cent of car parking capacity by the weekend. Edinburgh airport and Royal Bank of Scotland headquarters
provided alternative parking for 2,000 cars on the Saturday and Sunday, enabling the show to continue.
But cancellations soon followed, including the Cheshire ploughing match, Burwaton Show, Bingley, West
Yorkshire, and Alrewas, Staffordshire, Yealmpton, North Devon, Launceston, Cleveland, North East England,
and East Kilbride, plus many more.
There was some respite among the doom and gloom.
The team behind Mid Devon picked a glorious day for their event on July 28 and organisers of the Royal Welsh
said they owed their ‘bumper’ year to an investment of more than £200,000 which helped make the main ring and
car parks more resilient to the bad weather.
Show chief executive David Walters said the event broke its attendance record, with 241,000 people walking
through the gates this year
Politics- The History of Charcoal as a Fuel
Updated: 02 Jan 2013
The History of Charcoal - Worldwide
The first recorded use of charcoal comes from the black pigment used in European cave paintings dating from around 32,000 years ago. It is not known whether this charcoal was produced deliberately.
It is possible that the earliest use of charcoal as a fuel began over 7000 years ago in the smelting of copper.
The first definite evidence of mans’ involvement with charcoal as a fuel can be traced back 5500 years in Southern Europe and the Middle East.
It is thought that the Egyptians who were expert metal workers may have discovered the smelting of iron using charcoal nearly 5000 years ago and within a further 1000 years discovered how to produce glass.
The History of Charcoal in the UK
By the commencement of the Bronze Age in Britain around 4000 years ago the use of charcoal was common place.
Whereas pure copper could be smelted at around 800º C only charcoal was able to provide a temperature nearly 300º C higher that allowed the smelting of tin and copper to produce bronze.
Bronze was a versatile metal. It set much harder than copper and in manufacture was easier to cast as it flowed more freely.
It was most useful for the production of swords, axes, tools and jewelry.
Damaged or broken items could be melted and recast and tools with a hardened edge could always be re-sharpened.
Everyday objects were commonly made from bronze and a significant charcoal production was required to support the expanding metal industry.
The wood supplies for this came mostly from the continued clearance of the wildwood which was being converted for agriculture.
The wildwood had covered almost all of the country since the last ice age but by around 1000 BC about 50% had been already been cleared.
Through the Iron Age the demand for charcoal grew as more efficient methods of producing iron were developed.
In the south of the country on the lighter chalkland an even greater level of clearance of the wildwood occurred.
This area was particularly favourable for agriculture with easily worked soils that drained freely and were ideal for habitation.
Ploughing of the land resulted in erosion leading to the formation of banks (lynchets) upon which trees grew.
These were regularly coppiced and helped supply the local charcoal producers.
The formal integration of woodland and agricultural management had begun.
By Roman times iron was being produced in large-scale processes.
To fuel the considerable production, many thousands of acres of coppice were brought under management and invariably the iron works were situated close by.
Such was the scale of production that slag was commonly used as a sub-base for new roads.
However, charcoal was not limited to use as a fuel.
The wood tars produced were used for caulking ships and the lighter pyroligneous acid (which the Egyptians had used for embalming) may have had a use in the production of dyes.
Charcoal posts were used for construction support in wet areas where ordinary timber would have quickly rotted whilst crushed charcoal had uses in the filtration and purification of liquids.
AD 410 - 1900
Through Saxon times little is known of the size of the charcoal industry and it is not until around AD 1200 that a number of records detail licences and charges levied on those burning charcoal.
By 1334 charcoal had found a new use as a constituent of gunpowder while elsewhere the iron industry flourished.
Towards the end of the fifteenth century it was realised that sufficiently large furnaces could allow cannons to be "cast" as a single piece.
These "blast" furnaces consumed large quantities of charcoal in addition to that already being used for glass manufacture, wrought iron and domestic fuel.
By the mid sixteenth century concern was expressed that the heavy demand for charcoal was placing an excessive pressure on the remaining woodland.
A number of restrictions were brought into effect and one of these which prohibited the cutting of mature wood encouraged the charcoal producers to secure timber supplies from coppice management.
Although historians have often considered that the excessive felling of timber to fuel the iron industries resulted in woodland loss, it is now recognised that this theory is wholly incorrect.
The iron industry was long term in nature and iron works jealously guarded their supplies.
Furthermore, most of the timber used in the charcoal kiln was of coppice origin.
Coppice material was of regular size, was easy to handle and load and required minimal recutting.
Woods close to the iron works survived because their place as fuel providers to the iron industry raised their economic importance and prevented their loss to agriculture as happened elsewhere.
1900 - Present Day
By the early part of the eighteenth century experimentation in the conversion of coal resulted in 1735 in the creation of coke.
This new fuel became quickly preferred and the importance of charcoal declined.
Within a century most of the furnaces had converted and over 4000 years of charcoal use as an industrial fuel came gradually to a close.
During the first half of the twentieth century the main use for charcoal was for the production of carbon disulphide – a chemical used by the artificial silk industry.
However a number of other specialised uses developed. In its activated form charcoal has exceptional properties for the absorption of gasses and in purifying liquids.
It has been used in gas masks and has been used to refine chemical solutions.
It has also found use in animal feed and with the horticultural and pharmaceutical industries.
By 1980 production in the UK was down to a few thousand tonnes per annum and at a low point.
Most recently charcoal has enjoyed a renaissance as a domestic BBQ fuel.
Concerns as to the adverse environmental impact of some imported charcoal, and the desire to return local woodland to coppice management have rekindled the local English charcoal industry.
Farming- Poverty on the Land- Farmers and Workers require Feudal Charity
Updated: 24 Dec 2012
Farming charities welcome Royal cash
23 December 2012 |
By Louise Hartley
FARMING support charities are celebrating this Christmas after receiving a six-figure donation from Prince Charles.
UK rural charities including the RSABI, Royal Agricultural Benevolent Fund (RABI), Farm Crisis Network (FCN) and
the Addington Fund will receive £150,000 from the Prince’s Countryside Fund (PCF) to boost their crucial work.
In a further bid of good will, this figure has been matched by the Duke of Westminster, taking the total pot to £300,000.
PCF leaders now want the Scottish and UK public to do their bit to support hard hit farmers and have called on them to donate what they can.
They can donate online, via a special text service or at the Post Office in a bid to raise a seven-figure support fund.
The initiative comes after a year of drought, floods, poor harvest and increased feed prices.
As Farmers Guardian reported in November, farming charities were dealing with a surge in calls from stressed
farmers and had paid out 75 per cent more cash to struggling families than this time last year.
RSABI, which has traditionally offered support to those in Scotland no longer able to work due to illness or old
age, said the money would boost its new specialised service, Gatepost.
The charity’s chief executive Maurice Hankey said: “There will be a substantial chunk of this money coming to
Scotland but we cannot help people if they don’t come forward.
I would urge farmers to set aside pride and get in touch.”
At a meeting with farming charity leaders this week, Prince Charles said: “I have been growing increasingly
concerned about the many difficulties which farmers from all sectors are facing, and are likely to face, this winter.
“When I set up my countryside fund in 2010 we decided from the start we would keep a lump sum available to be
used for any farming emergency.
I think we are all agreed many British farmers are now facing that emergency situation.”
FCN said the ‘generous’ grant will enable it to maintain its national helpline, which has received a significant increase in calls this year.
Chief executive of FCN, Charles Smith, said: “The funding will also ensure that our volunteers can reach those
farmers who need support, understanding and encouragement at times when difficulties can easily lead to
problems of mental health and depression.”
Fund director of the Addington Fund, Ian Bell, said: “The generosity of the PCF is critical to our ability to support
the farming community.
We are particularly anxious to support the essentially viable businesses cope with circumstances that are out of
Farming- Badgers -Vaccinate not Exterminate say Wildlife Charity
Updated: 14 Dec 2012
Badger vaccination reduces TB by 54 per cent, claims report
The results, from a four year study by the Food and Environment Research Agency and university departments, saw badgers injected with BCG.
Defra said vaccination was something it was looking into for both badgers and cattle.
Researchers identified ‘a reduction of 54 per cent in the risk of a positive result following vaccination’.
It concluded: “Together, these results provide additional insights into the nature of the protective effect of BCG
vaccination of wild badgers in their natural social setting.
“Our findings should be considered in light of the relatively short time scale over which the beneficial effects of
vaccination were observed.”
It also found unvaccinated cubs were less susceptible to the disease because there was less contact with diseased badgers.
The report is the latest in the long running vaccination versus cull debate regarding badgers. Welsh
Government chiefs met in Cardiff this week to discuss the potential of vaccinating cattle for TB in wake of the country’s own badger cull U-turn.
A Defra spokesman said: “Vaccination is one of our goals to help stop the spread of bovine TB and we are investing £15.5m in their development over the next four years.
“There are practical difficulties administering injectable badger vaccines as you have to trap every badger every
year, which means that it is not a realistic option for dealing with the problem in the short term. We are funding
oral badger vaccine development while working to overcome the EU regulations that prevent the use of cattle vaccination.”
NFU director of policy Martin Haworth said farmers wanted to see the disease under control in cattle and badgers.
He added: “The science shows us that tackling this terrible disease requires a comprehensive package of tools that can deployed effectively, including vaccination.
“However, as the author of the report Professor Robbie McDonald stresses, while this study is encouraging, the costs and benefits for vaccinating badgers are not yet well understood, or how this will help to control this terrible disease in cattle.
“This is crucial.
Until we see some research that shows a significant reduction of TB in cattle, and at a reasonable cost, the
vaccination of badgers cannot be a solution by itself to this relentless disease cycle of infection which resulted
in the culling of almost 35,000 beef and dairy cows across Great Britain last year.”
But animal welfare groups said the results should end the cull debate.
Philip Mansbridge, chief executive of wildlife charity Care for the Wild, said: “This report must be the final nail in
the coffin of the plan to cull badgers. Pro-cull supporters claim the disease can only be stopped if the so-called
reservoir of disease within wildlife is reduced but this study shows that vaccination can achieve this.”
Farming- Potato Famine ? Retail Prices Rocket
Updated: 09 Dec 2012
Farmers toil as cold snap hits UK
FROST and ice added to an already tense situation for potato growers this week as many battled against the elements to finish lifting.
Indications from the Potato Council said crop production was at its lowest since 1976 with yields down 25 per cent from last year.
But farmers said a 50 per cent loss was more likely.
And farmers across all sectors struggled with the cold weather, especially in Scotland where up to six inches of snow fell in some areas as temperatures sank as low as 19F (-7C) on Tuesday night.
Robin Cropper, who farms with his brother in Aughton, Lancashire, said they had faced an ‘impossible’ situation this year.
“We have exhausted all the drier bits which were still very wet, but some of it will just have to be written off,” he said.
“We have harvested about 80 hectares (200 acres) but we have still got 40ha (100 acres) to go.
“It’s pretty impossible at the moment.
The potatoes at the bottom of the plant have rotted because they’ve been sat in water so long and now the frost has attacked the ones at the top.”
Mr Cropper said store potatoes were also running low, coupled with low 2012 yields down more than 50 per cent on the average.
He added the dismal year seemed ‘even worse’ due to last year’s crop being so successful.
NFU Scotland vice president Allan Bowie, who farms 42ha (105 acres) in St Andrews, added quality was a problem as well as quantity.
“Size is a problem this year. I wonder if a lot of growers left them to bulk up and then got caught out with the weather,” he said.
“Yields across the board are considerably back on average.
“We have lifted what we can get to, but a lot will be left in the soil.
Those still in now will have been got by the frost.”
Mr Bowie said some growers had been ‘lucky’ and pulled in extra harvesters to get the rest of the crop tidied up.
It comes as the Met Office announced severe weather warnings after a blanket of snow fell on icy ground in the
South East, and the north of England, causing chaos on the roads and rail networks.
More sleet and snow was expected to fall yesterday (Thursday), with forecasters expecting it to settle in eastern
Farming- With Cows the Methane comes out of the front end
Updated: 24 Nov 2012
Michael Slezak, Asia-Pacific reporter
(Image: OJO Images/Rex Features)
I'd hate to be the IT guy fixing this network.
By dropping electronic devices into the stomachs of cows and networking them together, researchers hope to reduce the climate-warming farts and burps they produce.
Emissions from livestock - much of which is methane released when they burp - are a serious component of global greenhouse gas emissions.
But some individuals are a little more, erm, 'gassy' than others.
By breeding "low methane" animals, and modifying farming practices slightly, their emissions could be lowered by up to 50 per cent, says Chris McSweeny from the CSIRO's Sustainable Agriculture Flagship in Brisbane, Australia.
The problem is it's hard to measure how much cows burp while they're roaming around the paddock.
So McSweeny and colleagues developed a gas-sniffing submarine that lives in a cow's stomach.
Coated with a special membrane that helps it survive the harsh conditions inside, the plan is to pop them in the stomachs of whole paddocks of cows and connect them with an ad-hoc wireless network.
The device stays in the stomach for weeks and measures gas concentration using infra-red sensors.
A pair of wings pops out after it enters the stomach and stops it from moving beyond the rumen - the chamber in a cow or sheep's stomach where much of the gas production occurs.
The trick now is figuring out how conditions in the animal's stomachs predict the volume of gasses they belch.
If it works out, the creators imagine farms of networked, low-methane cows, with farmers able to monitor how gassy they are, and manage their feed in real time
Farming - Hard times - Higher prices- Food Shortages
Updated: 13 Nov 2012
NEXT time you stand at the supermarket checkout, spare a thought for the farmers who helped fill your shopping basket.
They are finding life hard right now, and you can be sure this will mean higher food prices for you, and tougher
times for the millions in the world for whom food shortages are a matter of life and death.
Worse, studies suggest that the world will need twice as much food by 2050.
Yet while farmers must squeeze more out of the land, they must also reduce their impact on the environment.
All this means rethinking how agriculture is practised, and taking automation to a whole new level.
Farming - Most food should come from farms -The Biofuels "bubble has burst"
Updated: 11 Nov 2012
Biofuels no longer realistic, says expert
THE biofuels ‘bubble has burst’, one expert has claimed.
Prof Denis Murphy of the University of Glamorgan said the realisation crops were being diverted away from much-needed food production meant their role as energy providers was diminishing fast.
“I personally would not invest in a biodiesel plant in the UK,” he added at the NFU Cymru conference this week.
The emergence of second generation biofuel crops such as grass or tropical vegetation not being grown for food might be an option, but were still a long way off reality.
He also said the first generation of GM crops, which were commercialised in 1996, had been ‘moderately successful’, but contained only two modified traits, herbicide and pest resistance.
Second-generation GM crops, with a much wider range of traits, were under development with more farmer and consumer relevant traits, such as improved food quality, drought tolerance and disease resistance
Farming- Rural Workers Pay must be protected by continuing the Agricultural Wages Board
Updated: 08 Nov 2012
Unite lawyers look at government handling of rural wages
by Tim Lezard -
7th November 2012, 8.30 GMT
David Cameron has been told that the government could be acting unlawfully in its unseemly haste to abolish the Agricultural Wages Board (AWB) on which more than 150,000 workers rely for a decent income.
Unite is calling on the Prime Minister to extend the four week consultation period – due to close next Monday (November 12th) – until January 21st, 2013, so that all interested organisations can have a proper opportunity to make the case for the AWB’s retention.
At stake is some £140 million in workers’ wages which will, should the AWB be abolished, be retained by the employers, which include some of the biggest farm and retail outfits in the UK.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “Our legal advisers are reviewing the extent to which the government’s approach to this consultation has been lawful.”
While the government’s support for the living wage is to be welcomed, it cannot be that while Number 10 promotes action to improve incomes, DEFRA is rushing through consultation on proposals that will destroy rural wages.
Unite believes that the coalition is failing in its duty of care to the historic agricultural workforce, which has created one of the most efficient agricultural economies in the developed world.
And that if the AWB is abolished, this will accelerate the slide into rural poverty.
Len McCluskey said: “What is happening with the consultation on the future of the AWB is anti-democratic; hundreds of thousands of rural workers and stakeholder organisations are being locked out of the consultation to the certain detriment of the people most impacted by any abolition.
“There is concern within the National Farmers Union (NFU), as well as Unite and other consultees, about the potential scale of the internal consultation they need, set against the deadline imposed by government.
“Concerns have been expressed to Unite by some civil society groups that their views have not been sought and that the consultees draw heavily from the large employers and retailers.
For instance, why are the views of the agricultural colleges not being sought?”
Len McCluskey said that the new consultation principles included the principle of ‘digital by default’, but for rural workers this was a “wholly inadequate” process.
He said: “Internet services in rural areas are notoriously poor due to historic government under-investment, and mobile reception being notoriously unreliable.
“The imposition of ‘digital by default’ on this consultation, in particular, is being seen as a deliberate attempt to evade the views of those seeking to defend the AWB.”
Unite has pointed out that, while the Westminster government wanted to abolish the AWB in England and Wales, the devolved governments in Scotland and Northern Ireland were keeping their AWBs and there was a commitment by the Welsh Government to retain its AWB.
Unite is not against the modernisation of the AWB, but that rural communities are economically fragile where low wages are the norm – and to afford some protection against rural poverty was the reason that the AWB, which has it origins in the First World War, came into being in the first place
Farming-Agricultural Wages Board protects farm workers-For the Axe by the Squirearchy
Updated: 08 Nov 2012
Harvest of poverty
Wednesday 07 November 2012
One hundred and fifty two thousand farmworkers face a direct attack on their wage packets.
For no good reason other than that the Con-Dem's blatant onslaught on the working class at the bidding of their paymasters is breaking dirt in the countryside.
In the year marking the 180th anniversary of the founding of the Friendly Society of Agricultural Labourers at Tolpuddle the government aims to axe the independent Agricultural Wages Board (AWB).
It would mean nothing less than a major transfer of wealth from those who work on farms to those who own them.
And it looks like the only justification for this devastating move which will increase rural poverty is that the Tories made a manifesto commitment.
The independent AWB for England and Wales is the last of the old wages councils - the others were axed in the early 1990s.
It didn't get the chop then because farmers and farmworkers were ostensibly quite happy with it.
Under the current system the AWB covers graded pay scales, also taking into account skills, qualifications and responsibilities - not contained in the national minimum wage legislation - hours and other rights.
Without it wages will fall or stagnate.
Potential costs to farm workers in lower wages are horrifying - the Environment Department's own impact assessment reckons over 10 years the cost in lost wages will be a staggering £235.7 million.
And the overall gain will be £236.2m - £500,000 gained by the taxpayer from less bureaucracy, the rest by farmers.
As usual, the government is putting out a smokescreen spin.
Farming Minister David Heath said plans were "to modernise the agricultural labour market (which) could create almost 1,000 new jobs while keeping workers well protected."
The bureaucrats said in their best PR-speak: "The law governing agricultural wages will be harmonised with the rest of the economy, ending an anomaly requiring farmers to follow outdated and bureaucratic rules dating back to the beginning of the 20th century.
"Research shows that in line with the government's work to reduce bureaucracy in the food and farming industry, farmers will save significant time, effort and costs."
Very nice if it could be justified with facts and it were even generally true.
The background is a little more complex.
For example, no-one can say how, when or where the 1,000 jobs will be created.
The AWB was set up under the 1948 Agricultural Wages Act and its legally binding annual wage orders are enforced by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs - usually coming into force on October 1 every year.
But as Labour's shadow environment, food and rural affairs secretary Mary Creagh said at her party's conference last month: "(This year) what may be the last Agricultural Wages Order comes into force.
"Over 152.000 farmworkers, fruit pickers, food packers will get a pay rise - thanks to you.
Next year, if the Tories have their way, they won't."
Unite has launched a massive campaign to raise the profile of the fight and is asking for the four-week public consultation - ending this Monday - to be extended another eight weeks.
Farm work is tough and one of the most potentially dangerous occupations.
Pay and conditions don't rank among the highest.
The AWB was a buffer.
Unite assistant general secretary Diana Holland said: "The AWB is not a bureaucracy.
It provides essential support to rural communities.
"Driving down wages does not create jobs, it makes workers and families more vulnerable.
"If the abolition is allowed to happen, highly skilled workers will see their pay threatened, overtime rates will disappear, holidays reduced and sick pay will be a thing of the past.
"Protection in their tied homes will be reduced and rents increased."
She added: "We need a fairly paid agricultural workforce, and the AWB provides a tried and tested way for workers, their employers and independent specialists to jointly discuss this."
The Welsh Assembly government is strongly against the abolition - a position welcomed and supported by Unite, the Farmers Union of Wales and Wales Young Farmers.
One of the campaigners is Richard Neville, a Sussex farmworker who has been on the land for 39 years.
The Unite branch secretary has pedigree.
"My parents were involved in the campaign to save the board in 1993 and were also involved in the 1976 agricultural rent act campaign."
Fellow campaigner David Hide said the reason for the abolition now was a 2010 manifesto commitment - "work had been done by both the National Farmers Union and the Horticultural Trades Association to lobby the Tories while in opposition to gain this commitment."
He added: "While we may think Labour didn't do enough to protect workers while in government it did bring in the national minimum wage which is what some farmers and growers now want to fall back on.
"Their (farmers and growers) argument is that if other local industries can employ casual and agency workers on the minimum wage then why can't they.
The base rate in respect of the AWB order is 2p an hour higher than the minimum wage.
"I am making no excuses for the employers, but their argument is that in some areas - particularly the vegetable, fruit and salad sectors - they employ fewer full-time staff who might be better paid than the many agency workers doing what they consider low skilled picking and harvesting work which they wish to pay at no more than minimum rates.
"Again their argument is that their profit margins are being continually squeezed by the supermarkets and they might just have a point."
Progressive journal Country Standard says that Northern Ireland has retained its AWB structure after a public consultation.
Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill said: "I firmly believe that the AWB structure is a valuable forum for wage negotiations and importantly is used as a benchmark for the wider agri-food industry."
Whitehall take note.
Farming- Rural Stress - Suffering in Silence
Updated: 07 Nov 2012
'Don't suffer in silence' as rural stress toll grows
2 November 2012 |
By Olivia Midgley
.DISMAL weather, a poor harvest and increases in feed prices have contributed to a 75 per cent surge in the amount of money paid out to farmers in financial need, a leading charity has revealed.
Figures from the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) have been backed up by other farming charities which said they were fielding the highest volume of calls from farmers and their families since the recession hit in 2008.
And charity leaders have urged farmers not to suffer in silence if they are struggling under the crippling weight of financial pressure or other issues such as depression or family breakdown.
RABI head of welfare Trish Pickford said: “Farming has a bright future, but not everyone can take advantage of the opportunities available and it is important people know we are here to help when it matters most.”
Between June and August this year, RABI paid £84,000 in emergency grants to 54 working farmers.
This equated to 75 per cent more money to 33 per cent more people than the same period in 2011.
And the pleas for help are something other charities are seeing within the rural community.
Chief executive of Farm Crisis Network (FCN) Charles Smith, said the emerging pattern was ‘deeply concerning’.
“The wet weather and lack of sunshine has caused a lot of difficulties,” he said.
“Those who have eaten into winter forage have not been able to build stocks back up due to the poor crop this year, meaning those who need to buy it in are facing increasing costs as suppliers will jack the prices up.”
Mr Smith said the charity, which supports more than 1,000 farming families each year, had joined forces with the NFU to help farmers access winter forage.
“It has been an incredibly difficult year for many families and we are very concerned about parts of the country, especially the North where they seem to have been hit hardest,” added Mr Smith.
“We want to tell farmers we are available to support them as they work through these issues.
We want them to speak to us, not leave it until the crisis is actually hitting home and impacting on relationships in the family.
“We can’t wave a magic wand but we can be there to walk alongside them and give them some moral support.”
Calls to the Samaritans’ helpline about financial worries have doubled in the three years since the onset of the financial crisis, research by the charity showed.
One in five people who contacted the charity in 2011 talked about job concerns, housing problems, debt and other financial pressures, doubling from one in 10 calls in 2008
Farming - Sky Lanterns injure livestock and risk farm fires
Updated: 03 Nov 2012
Public reminded of sky lantern dangers
2 November 2012 |
By Ryan Wood
WITH Bonfire Night celebrations expected over the next few days, revellers are being reminded to take care before lighting sky lanterns to limit damage caused to the countryside.
Although becoming increasingly popular, sky lanterns can travel miles before coming down and their burnt-out remains can injure livestock and cause a significant risk to farmland and buildings.
Agriculture Minister David Heath, said:
“These lanterns look spectacular in the sky but when they come down in rural areas they can cause real damage to animals and the surrounding land.
“We all enjoy bonfire night celebrations – but I want people to be aware of the potential impact of sky lanterns and consider alternatives, particularly while we investigate their true impact on animals and the environment.
An independent study has been launched by the Government to assess the risks sky lanterns pose and to see what could be done to address concerns that people have about them.
Mr Heath continued:
“This investigation will find out just what effect sky lanterns are having on farming and the environment.
“Given the concerns being raised about sky lanterns, I want to find out as much as possible about their impact – especially the ways other countries have dealt with them – to make sure we can make sure we can all enjoy bonfire night and other celebrations safely.”
Farming - Death Toll is unacceptable
Updated: 01 Nov 2012
'Too many lives lost' - HSE publishes new farm safety figures
31 October 2012
| By Alistair Driver
THIRTY-THREE people died in farming-related accidents in Britain in 2011/12, new figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show.
While the latest figures show a small improvement on the five year average of 35 fatalities and on last year’s figure of 34, they confirm that farming remains one of the most dangerous sectors in Britain.
While the number of fatalities fell, the agricultural sector recorded 362 major injuries in 2011/12 up from 354 in 2010/11 and 671 ‘over-3-day injuries’, up from 594 in 2010/11.
In total, non-fatal injuries saw a nine percent increase from 948 in 2010/11 to 1033 in 2011/12.
Farming accounted for 19 per cent of all British workplace deaths (173) in 2011/12.
Of the farming fatalities, there were six fatal injuries to members of the public.
Almost half of the workers who were fatally injured were farmers and another 21 per cent were farm workers.
The farming deaths equated to a fatal injury rate was 9.7 per 100 000 workers, which is lower than the average figure for the previous five years of 11.3.
Over time this equates to a ‘much higher’ rate than any other industry sector, although, in 2011/12, one sector, mining and quarrying, recorded an even higher rate of 10.4, double its five-year average.
Graeme Walker, head of HSE’s Agriculture Sector, said: “It is generally accepted that agriculture is one of the most challenging sectors in which to work.
Though Britain compares favourably with other countries in Europe on workplace health and safety, the latest figures for farming clearly illustrate that more work needs to be done.
“Too many lives continue to be lost or damaged.
I know that the farming community accepts and wants to address the problem.
One of the most important and encouraging developments in recent years has been the way the industry and the people who work in it have shown leadership in tackling it.
“We all have a responsibility to ensure serious workplace risks are reduced and sensibly managed.
HSE is committed to working with farmers to raise awareness of the consequences of cutting corners and taking unnecessary risks and the benefits of improving standards.”
Updated: 26 Oct 2012
UK Countryside history - 2000 AD
A conservation headland in spring barley rich with biodiversity - part of agriculture's attempt to supply the "public goods" sought by a consumer, stake holding society.
Mainstream crops included wheat, barley, oats, oil seed rape, potatoes and sugar beet with an increasing range of horticultural and speciality crops but all subject to fierce international competition and very low prices.
No energy crops were grown as the tax regime discouraged their introduction.
The industry was in the grip of a spate of crippling diseases that included BSE, swine fever, foot and mouth and TB in cattle.
Legislation and red tape were burdening economic recovery in this sector and leading to rationalisation with fewer and fewer producers.
Despite this, production methods were becoming more welfare friendly with UK producers leading the way internationally.
Integrated farming and organic farming were increasingly adopted amidst a new direction that was sought by policy makers and farmers alike.
Severe financial pressure existed with nominal prices for products often the same as those 30 years earlier despite 5 times cost inflation during the period.
With farm incomes at crisis point, consolidation of the industry's workforce was under way with a significant skills loss and depopulation of the rural workforce.
Agriculture was continuing to decline as a land use (down 5% in 40 years) and was giving way to leisure and urban development.
Patterns of ownership and management were changing too with a small number of highly mechanised contract farmers beginning to dominate production.
Woodland & Hedges
The woodland area stood at 11%, greater than the medieval period some seven centuries earlier and similar to the Roman period (albeit of different species composition).
Hedgerow length had increased since the early 1990's, a fact not widely appreciated at the time.
Internationalised economy with an urban population disconnected from agriculture and unconvinced by the need for support of an industry that provided less than 1% of GDP and employed only 2% of the workforce.
Despite this agriculture still accounted for 70% of UK land and provided an overall sufficiency in food products of 65%.
Farming -UK 1960
Updated: 26 Oct 2012
UK Countryside history - 1960 AD
Another technological revolution was underway as agriculture pursued increased output and greater security of supply.
With rationing still fresh in the public's mind, the industry responded to government initiatives derived from the 1947 Agriculture Act.
Improved stock and plant breeding, the greater use of fertiliser and pesticides and a move away from more extensive forms of production saw yields rise.
52 million largely urban based.
Plant breeding, machanisation and agronomy all led to improved yields with wheat up 35% in a decade to an average of 4 tonnes per hectare.
Inputs of purchased fertiliser and pesticide complimented a growing understanding of the science of crop production.
Operations were increasingly mechanised and the arable labour force declined.
But in this climate of supported prices the quest for profit encouraged some farmers to turn their back on good practice and shelve rotations.
Known as the barley barons they resorted to continuously grown barley - a practice that was common in the 1970's.
Silage as a conserved feedstuff was replacing hay and breeding initiatives in the beef and dairy sectors saw the demise of dual purpose animals in favour of higher output specialised breeds.
Grants for farmers encouraged mechanisation and the development of larger more intensive livestock buildings.
The practice of most farms maintaining a few pigs and beef animals declined in favour of more specialised units and "factory farming" began.
Agriculture was supported by various Acts, initially the 1947 Agriculture Act and grant funding and price support greatly empowered the modern era of agriculture with new technology, specialisation, improved breeding and management all pushing output in the new revolution.
Not all was well however, and Rachel Carson's book "Silent Spring" paved the way for a wider concern about farming and the environment.
In 1972 Britain joined the EEC and after a transitional period agricultural policy fell within the remit of the CAP which encouraged wasteful surpluses and amidst only slow reform widened the gulf between agriculture and consumer.
Woodland & Hedges
Ancient woodland made way for agriculture and forestry fueled by government initiatives and a significant proportion was lost between 1950 and 1970.
Hedgerows suffered a similar fate and thousands of miles were lost in the search for an efficiency and food sufficiency that the post war policy makers sought.
While the enclosure of land and planting of hedges centuries earlier had been often deeply unpopular, so the removal of the same hedges in the interests of efficiency was also to prove no less controversial.
In 1965 dutch elm disease revisited and within two decades most of the countryside's most important hedgerow tree was lost.
Agriculture was still an important industry in the economy and represented some 3% of GDP, but where output was rapidly rising on the back of new technology and mechanisation the agricultural workforce declined and rural depopulation resulted.
Slightly cooler than today.
Updated: 26 Oct 2012
UK Countryside history - 1850 AD
The industrial revolution transformed the landscape and led to Britain becoming the world's first urban nation.
Railways, new roads and an improving transport infrastructure provided fresh food for fast growing towns while imported produce from around the world provided a greatly more diverse diet.
Increasingly however, the countryside became a remote and distant environment to an industrialised society.
By 1850 the population of the mainland UK had grown to 21 million with 2.3 million living in London.
Over 50% of the population lived in towns which were growing at an increasing rate.
Britain was now unique in the world in being essentially an urban nation.
By 1900 the proportion of urban dwellers had grown to 80%.
Technological developments took place across the whole spectrum of mechanisation with reaping and threshing machines, new ploughs and drills.
Nitrogen fertiliser (guano) was imported from Chile and widely used by the mid 19th century with manufactured sulphate of ammonia and superphosphate in use in the latter part of the century.
Agricultural productivity also rose on the back of the increase in the use of roots crops and potatoes and urban demand created new markets for vegetables and salad crops.
Wool for centuries the foundation of the textile industry was declining in importance with the advent of cotton.
Textiles manufactured from cotton were easier to mechanise which allowed higher output and greater profit - albeit for only a brief period before the competitive advantage would be lost to a new innovation elsewhere.
The textile industry was however a source of technology transfer and developments were quickly exported to other industries where the advantages of mechanisation raised output.
While wool was of declining importance the market for meat and milk grew and farmers responded with higher output beef and dairy systems founded largely on the use of root crops.
The Corn Laws which had been introduced from the beginning of the nineteenth century to protect British farmers from international trade, pushed up the price of wheat and made bread expensive.
This was unpopular with manufacturers who wanted to be able to pay lower wages and who saw cheaper bread as a way of achieving this.
In 1846 amidst the potato famine and widespread pressure for their removal, the Corn Laws were repealed and imports resumed.
The agricultural interest had been checked but in a period of technological advance the industry was able to ride out the competition with improved yields and lower production costs.
Capital spending on drainage, buildings, machinery and roads linking to the railways (8,000 miles by 1850) all fueled the agricultural revolution with British farmers at least twice as efficient as their European contemporaries.
As with all farming systems, such progress is often punctuated with crisis as the potato blight of the 1840's illustrated.
During 1845, 46 and 48 blight decimated the potato crop in Ireland and up to a million died from malnutrition and in the decade that followed a further 2 million emigrated.
The inadequacy of the British response to the calamity induced a bitterness in Ireland that persists today.
What price a fungicide? In 1860, 80% of food consumed was still produced in the UK but by the 1870s after a series of bad harvests and the arrival of imports from the prairies, farm gate prices fell dramatically and the great agricultural depression ensued.
Lasting for nearly thirty years significant rural depopulation resulted and where previously the workforce had known, understood and been involved in country ways, the new workforce were migrants with only a transient interest.
There were few to speak for agriculture and as rural Britain became depopulated so the countryside became a plaything for the rich.
By 1900 the majority of food and raw materials were imported.
Woodland & Hedges
By 1800 charcoal use was declining in favour of coal and coppicing as a method of woodland management declined.
With a lower economic rationale to woodland, a significant part of the area of ancient woodland that had existed since the Black Death was cleared to make way for agriculture or for modern forestry in the form of softwood plantations.
Many new species of tree and shrub were introduced and some of these now dominate the landscape.
Between 1750 and 1850 the enclosure of land had continued with some 200,000 miles of new hedge being planted.
Often comprised of almost exclusively hawthorn these new demarcations were unpopular as peasants were dispossessed of their small holdings and in becoming landless forced to find work in the cities.
The search for efficiency was concerned not just with enclosing new land - hedgerow removal was also leading to larger field sizes.
The 19th Century was dominated by international trade, commercialism and industrialisation with Britain's large urban workforce providing a huge stimulus for the world economy.
A large proportion of trade was based on import and subsequent export and supported by service industries like banking that improved the balance of payments with invisibles.
Free trade also led to an economic boom and by the 1880's a significant part of the population were enjoying leisure time and rising prosperity.
Wage rates had increased, the birth rate fell and diets improved with meat, milk, veg, bread, potatoes and beer all becoming more widely available.
UK agriculture remained fundamental in the supply of foodstuffs but its influence was waning in the economy as a whole and land, once identified with power, became just another asset.
In 1850 agriculture accounted for 20% of national income but by 1900 this had fallen to just 6%.
From 1850 the climate warmed to that we know today.
Farming-Allotment holders blamed by for spreading Foot & Mouth, BSE and eating diseased potatoes ?
Updated: 21 Oct 2012
Gardeners Blamed For Spreading Potato Blight
By (c) Sky News 2012
Allotment holders who fail to deal with blight-ridden potato plants have been blamed for spreading the fungal infection to farmers' fields.
If it is not detected, blight can destroy crops and the spores can quickly spread 30 miles or more in the wind.
Tackle it the right way and it can be controlled, but the Potato Council says some home and allotment growers are failing to spot the signs in time.
"If someone on an allotment has a blighted plant, a single leaf on that plant can produce 120,000 spores," said the organisation's director Rob Clayton.
"They can blow around in the wind and in warm, wet conditions they can infect neighbouring plants, neighbouring allotments and the whole neighbourhood."
The muggy, damp conditions of this summer have been the perfect breeding ground for the fungal infection.
Susanna Colaco has had an allotment in Cambridge (BSE: CTE.BO - news) since 1986. She (SNP: ^SHEY - news) has never known a year like it for blight. But she is angry that the finger is being pointed at growers like her.
"I think allotment holders are very responsible.
"On this site we purchase certified seed stock from our allotment trading hut and we are very careful that at the first sign of blight we inform all the members on site and ask them to remove foliage and to be vigilant."
That foliage must then be burnt, deeply buried or binned. It can even go in the council's compost bin as the contents are heated to a high temperature.
But infected leaves or rotten potatoes must never be put on the compost heap.
"If somebody throws a rotten potato on a compost heap at this time of year it can sprout ... and it can kick off a whole cycle of infection from next year on," said Mr Clayton.
Late blight, as it is known, or phytophthora infestans, is the type which destroyed vital potato crops in Ireland (Xetra: A0Q8L3 - news) in the mid-19th century causing the Great Famine. A million people died.
Farmers expect to lose around 7% of their crop to blight, but this year the loss is predicted to be more like 10%.
And the usual £55m cost of coping with the fungal infection is likely to increase to around £80m.
Potatoes are already 11% more expensive than they were this time last year and the price is expected to rise significantly higher as the impact of the increased farming costs filter through to the shops and markets.
Farming- Ban Chinese Lanterns and Cows from peoples gardens
Updated: 19 Oct 2012
Chinese sky lanterns could be banned after farming ministry probe
New farming minister David Heath commissions an inquiry into the impact of the lanterns on the environment, livestock and plants
National Farmers Union welcomes the investigation, warning cows have died after choking on wire frames
Lanterns have soared in popularity at weddings, parties and festivals
By Matt Chorley, Mailonline Political Editor
UPDATED: 22:12, 18 October 2012
..The dangers of Chinese sky lanterns are to be examined by a government study which could pave the way for them to be banned, MailOnline has learned.
Ministers are poised to launch an independent study to assess the scale of the risks posed to livestock, crops and the environment.
The probe will look at international efforts to limit their impact and consider their value to the economy after a boom in popularity of releasing the lanterns at weddings, festivals and parties.
A government study into the safety of sky lanterns will examine their use around the world. Dozens are pictured being released in Thailand
The image of sky lanterns filing the sky has made them popular for weddings, parties and festivals but ahead of Bonfire Night, ministers are urging people to think twice about using them
Farming leaders have long called for a ban on the lanterns, complaining that when the wire frames fall back to earth they can be eaten by cattle.
Several cows have died as a result of choking on small pieces of wire chopped up into hay or silage when crops are harvested, according to the National Farmers’ Union.
More...Charges for plastic bags 'will come sooner rather than later' as measures change customers' behaviour
Top scientists blast planned badger cull as 'mindless' and call for ministers to call off the killings
Plea to ban flying Chinese lanterns as cows are killed by them
New farming minister David Heath, who warned of the dangers of the lanterns in opposition, is to order a study into the dangers and urged people to ‘think carefully’ before using them.
He said: ‘The Government is aware of concerns about the impacts of sky lanterns on animals, crops and property and has taken steps to raise public awareness about the potential dangers sky lanterns pose, and to encourage people to think carefully before using them.
New Farming Minister David Heath said an independent study would look at the risks posed to the environment, livestock and plants
‘We will continue to look for further opportunities to do this over the coming months, especially as we approach bonfire night.
‘In order to assess the extent of the dangers posed by sky lanterns and possible steps to address such dangers, Defra proposes to commission an independent study to examine in detail the scale of the risks associated with the use of sky lanterns, and their impact on livestock, plants and the environment.
‘The results of this study will help inform any future Government action.’
Before the general election Mr Heath suggested he did not want to ban the lanterns, but there are concerns that even a move to alternatives using wicker instead of wire have failed to remove all the risks.
In addition to the threat posed to livestock, there are also dangers that a lit flame could ignite crops or hedgerows during dry weather.
Louise Staples, rural surveyor for the NFU, said today: ‘These types of lanterns may be fun and look pretty when they’re lit but they can pose a real danger to farms and farm animals, especially livestock in fields.
‘Cattle can eat the wire in the lantern which finds its way into the silage they are fed. The lanterns land in fields, are chopped up into small pieces when grass is gathered and made into silage. If swallowed, the wire can puncture the stomach lining, causing extreme pain and in some cases can be fatal.
The NFU says some cows have died after choking on the wire frames of lanterns which have been chopped up into feed
‘There’s also a good chance that the wire part of the frame could get wrapped around an animal's foot, become embedded in the skin and would cause extreme pain.
‘Obviously, fire is also another major problem particularly during the summer. These lanterns can pose a serious risk if they land in a field of crops or straw. Perhaps worse is if they come down near a barn or even by a thatched house which could easily catch fire.’
Shadow environment secretary Mary Creagh, who tabled parliamentary questions about the problem, said: 'Many people enjoy letting off Chinese lanterns to celebrate special occasions, but there are complaints from farmers about the harm they can cause to farm animals and machinery.
'We welcome this research into those issues so that the government has the full facts at its finfertips before changing the law.'
The NFU has urged its members to contact any venues near their farms using lanterns to warn them of the dangers and pleasing with them not to use them.
A Defra spokesman said: ‘Given the concerns and complaints that are being made about the damage sky lanterns can do, we want to find out just what effect they are having on farming and the environment.’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2219684/Dangers-Chinese-sky-lanterns-probed-independent-government-study-lead-banned.html#ixzz29kezMD2k
Farming- The Badger Cull - TB free Milk a Public Health Issue
Updated: 16 Oct 2012
Badger cull – the science behind the gamble
Updated 11:57 15 October 2012
by Andy Coghlan
Somewhere beneath England's rolling fields, there's a badger with a price on its head.
Sometime in the next two weeks, it will likely become the first of hundreds to be shot dead as part of a pilot cull licensed by the UK government to curb the spread of bovine tuberculosis to cattle – despite the fact that the badgers are protected under UK law.
Farmers in England and Wales are keen to get on with the controversial cull. T
hey have seen the annual slaughter of cattle with bovine TB soar from 6000 in 1998 to 34,000 in 2011, and have long argued that badgers are at least partly responsible.
They infect cattle by contaminating pastures, feeding areas, and even the air with Mycobacterium bovis – the bacteria that causes TB both in badgers and in cows.
Now, for the first time, an independent scientific group has presented evidence in support of a cull – five years after it suggested that culling would not work.
James Small's farm in Somerset has just reopened after a 6-month lockdown triggered when one of his cows tested positive. He says that bovine TB is every cattle farmer's worst nightmare – both in the UK and elsewhere (see "Possum purge", below).
"It's terrifying. Until the disease has really progressed in your cows, there are no visible signs," he says.
"We got the all clear in September after tests for the herd were negative for the necessary 120 days, but the test days were really stressful, not knowing what the vets would find."
Small is relieved that one of two pilot studies to evaluate badger culling is set to go ahead, although his farm lies outside both of the proposed field-trial areas.
Others are appalled by the decision. Queen guitarist Brian May launched an online petition to stop the cull, which has amassed 150,000 signatures to date.
At first glance, the new pilot studies appear to fly in the face of previous science.
In 2007, interim conclusions of the Randomised Badger Culling Trial (RBCT) – a £50-million experiment to assess the merits of a badger cull – suggested that culling would not work.
Killing badgers reduced the number of infected cattle herds within the RBCT study area by some 23 per cent compared with unculled areas, but these gains were offset by a 24 per cent rise in herd losses in a 2-kilometre-wide ring surrounding the culled area.
Researchers called this phenomenon the "perturbation effect". Infected badgers in the culling area fled to the sanctuary of the surrounding unculled zone, taking TB with them.
So strong was the perturbation effect that the increased herd losses in the peripheral area effectively cancelled out gains within the culled area.
In fact, the 2007 conclusions suggested that just 14 herd infections would have been avoided after a sustained badger cull covering 1000 square kilometres of farmland for five years.
But continued monitoring of the same sites where the RBCT took place has changed the picture, strengthening the justification for culling after all.
Christl Donnelly, an epidemiologist at Imperial College London, was a member of the team that performed the original 2007 analysis. She has periodically collected data from the study region since 2006.
The improvements seen within the study area have persisted.
Between 2006 and 2011 there were 28 per cent fewer TB infections there than might otherwise have been expected.
What's more, the boost seen in TB levels in the unculled outer ring was not sustained. In fact, between 2006 and 2011 there were 4 per cent fewer TB cases than expected from controls within the outer ring (PLoS One, doi.org/bb936n).
Armed with the new data, scientists advising the UK government concluded that culling over four years in a hypothetical area of 150 square kilometres – killing an estimated 1000 to 1500 badgers – could achieve a net reduction of herd infections of around 16 per cent within nine years. This, they calculated, equates to preventing 47 out of 292 TB infections that would result in a farm being locked down.
"Since the culling stopped, the data that have accumulated have pushed us more towards a position to cull," says Donnelly.
At a pivotal meeting in December 2011, scientific experts advising the UK government's Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) on bovine TB concluded that culling might play a role, alongside existing measures to physically exclude badgers from farms, frequently test cattle for TB and restrict movement of affected herds.
Points of view
Not everyone is convinced. Indeed, even Donnelly has reservations.
"Is it worth culling so many animals for 16 per cent fewer infected herds?
There, you get very different answers depending who you ask."
John Krebs at the University of Oxford headed the team that carried out the original trials. He sees problems with the new conclusions. "The pilot cull is flawed because it aims to remove 70 per cent of badgers without an accurate estimate of the starting number," he says.
"Another reason it won't work is that badgers are only part of the problem – about 50 per cent of new TB cases are cattle-to-cattle," says Krebs.
"I'm not aware of any informed expert in the relevant areas of population biology, epidemiology and behavioural ecology who thinks that the evidence supports culling as a sensible policy for controlling TB in cattle on a national scale."
In Ireland, though, culling badgers has had an effect.
The Irish government began a culling programme there in 2002 following a trial which found that herd outbreaks of TB were between two and 25 times less likely in culled than unculled areas (Preventive Veterinary Medicine, doi.org/b33wc7).
DEFRA is also working on a more long-term solution that all sides in the debate support – vaccinating cattle so they can't spread TB between themselves, or to badgers.
"To my knowledge, no one else is developing one, so we're at the forefront," says Nigel Gibbens, the chief veterinary officer at DEFRA. "We have proof-of-principle it works, but not approval."
There is a big hurdle to vaccination, however.
It's currently illegal in Europe, because it's impossible to distinguish vaccinated from infected animals, as both produce identical antibodies to the TB bacteria.
To get round this, DEFRA has developed a test that will do just that but, again, it will be a long road proving to the European authorities that the vaccine and the test work, then persuading them to change European law to allow vaccination.
For now, supporters and opponents alike will be awaiting the next chapter in the culling saga, with opponents still hoping to head off the pilot study, and farmers equally determined to press ahead.
Although relieved that the pilot cull is likely to proceed, Small says he's sad that things weren't dealt with long ago.
"Thirty years ago, TB was in a couple of areas in Devon and Cornwall, and it could have been job done," he says. "Now, it's in a third of the country, and it's a huge and controversial task – 10 years to get it under control would be really optimistic."
Badgers are not the only wild animal blamed for spreading TB to cows. In the US, white-tailed deer are the culprits, primarily in Michigan.
And in New Zealand, brush-tailed possums passed on infection that blighted cattle herds.
New Zealand is now practically free of cattle TB, after an aggressive possum-culling programme initiated in the mid-1990s.
"By December 2011, the infected herd prevalence rate was less than 0.2 per cent, the international benchmark for a country to be free of TB," says Paul Livingstone, eradication and research manager of the country's Animal Health Board.
Data from New Zealand suggests that rigorous testing of herds and slaughter of infected animals – the current approach in the UK – has little effect on herd infection rates.
Only when possum culling was introduced in 1972 did infections begin to fall – dramatically so when the board stepped up its culling efforts in the mid-1990s.
However, Livingstone concedes that the board's job was made easier by the fact that possums are unpopular in New Zealand. Badgers hold a higher place in the UK's collective affections.
Don't hurt Bambi
In the US, public affection for white-tailed deer has made the eradication of bovine TB in Michigan more difficult, and culling a no-go area. "Thus far, it's basically just been off the table," says Dan O'Brien, a leading vet at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources in Lansing.
O'Brien says that since bovine TB was discovered in about 2 per cent of Michigan deer in 2005, cattle-herd infections have averaged about 3 or 4 a year (Veterinary Microbiology, doi.org/cktv28). The authorities have adopted a different strategy: loosening the law on the killing of deer by hunters so they kill more, and discouraging the public from feeding deer.
The potential of culling was demonstrated in Minnesota, O'Brien says, which in 2005 saw an outbreak of TB in cattle that originated in deer (Veterinary Medicine International, doi.org/b9zb5b).
"They used agency culling as one of their strategies, combined with issuing liberalised, out-of-season hunting permits to halve the deer population in the infected area," he says.
"At this point, they appear to have been successful at preventing establishment of TB in their [wild] deer."
In Michigan, meanwhile, an estimated 2 per cent of deer remain infected despite several years of effort at control.
"Mass vaccination [of deer] has also been proposed by us, and that's where we're currently headed from a research standpoint," O'Brien says.
Farming- UK Cereal Yields at lowest level for 30 years
Updated: 11 Oct 2012
Wheat yields at lowest levels since 1980s after mixed harvest
10 October 2012 |
By Ben Briggs
WHEAT yields have dropped to their lowest level since the 1980s, new figures suggest.
UK yields for 2012 have been mixed across arable crops, according to the results of a NFU members’ survey.
The NFU 2012 harvest survey also revealed other major arable crops grown in the UK have performed well in difficult conditions, although without the investment made in technology by farmers the wheat harvest could have been much worse.
NFU chief combinable crops adviser Guy Gagen said: “Results have been mixed across the main arable crops in 2012, and the average results hide extreme variations across the country.
Yields for some crops have performed better than average in 2012 with results for barley reported as good for malting and around average for rapeseed in terms of oil content and yield.
“Much of the 2013 rapeseed crop is now planted and up, and farmers will be looking for further breaks in the weather to complete winter cereal crop planting.
I’d like to thank all those growers who responded to the survey and to GrainSafe for providing two automatic grain temperature monitors.”
“However, we have seen a relatively low wheat yield this year, below seven tonnes per hectare.
This is something not seen in the UK since the late 1980s.
The abnormally high rainfall across the UK since early summer this year has depressed wheat yield.”
Yields for 2012 crops:
Wheat - down 14.1 per cent on five year average, from 7.8 to 6.7 tonnes per hectare.
Winter Barley - up 1.6 per cent on five year average, from 6.3 to 6.4 tonnes per hectare.
Spring Barley - down 7.4 per cent on the five year average, from 5.4 to 5 tonnes per hectare.
Oilseed Rape - up 5.9 per cent on five year average, from 3.4 to 3.6 tonnes per hectare.
Farming- One Man and his Dog
Updated: 21 Sep 2012
One Man and His Dog back on this Saturday
The long running show is popular with sheepdog triallers across the UK.
Farming- Harvest Home - Your Daily Bread ? Your Pinta Beer ?
Updated: 17 Sep 2012
Scottish harvest hammered as England and Wales avoid the worst
16 September 2012 |
By Olivia Midgley
AS HARVEST nears completion in many parts of the UK, farmers are reporting a mixed bag of fortunes.
Scotland has been the worst hit, with many farmers reporting yields well below average, but parts of England and Wales have fared better, though wheat has taken a battering across the board.
James Peck of P.X. Farms, Cambridgeshire, said wheat yields were down 33 per cent on the nine-year average.
He said: “Bushel weight is 66.5, which is equivalent to £14 per tonne.
That means with the yields down, for us to be able to hit budget, the wheat price needs to be £213/t.
“The way the year started off, I thought it was going to be the harvest which my grandfather always talked about.
But it has been the complete opposite.
“At the moment we have 4,200 tonnes of wheat which is below spec.
We’re blending it with some better quality stuff so we will have some wheat this year to sell, which is a big job.”
But Mr Peck said it was not all doom and gloom as the oilseed rape crop had made up for the poor wheat.
“We’ve averaged 4.43 tonnes per hectare, which is only the second time in my 12 years in farming we have averaged more than 4t/ha,” he said.
NFU Scotland’s combinable crops committee member Willie Thomson, who runs an arable enterprise in East Lothian, said yields were down.
“The spring barley, especially on the heavier ground, has been somewhere between 4 to 5t/ha,” he said.
“Our saving grace is the planting conditions for next year’s crop are not looking too bad.
A lot of oilseed rape has gone in and winter barley will go in next week.
“We’ve had a decent dry spell, but the damage had already been done and a lot of crops were badly affected by disease.
I’ve not seen it this poor in 20 years.”
Chairman of the Farmers Union of Wales’ arable, horticulture and cropping committee, Maelgwyn Davies, who farms at Llwyncelyn, said even though the weather had been ‘extremely wet’, yields on the whole were looking good
Channel 4 The Audience-Farm Worker- Ian Wainwright
Updated: 15 Sep 2012
Q&A with Ian Wainwright
Channel 4 -The Audience
Thursday 13 September 2012
Ian answers our questions on his experiences since filming.
Channel 4: Since making the film, what has happened to your uncles? How have they been?
Ian: At the moment I don't feel that the uncles have fully acccepted the decision as nothing has really changed with the farm.
Channel 4: How has your mother reacted to your decision? How has your relationship been with her since?
Ian: It was a hard decision for my mum to accept as this means the end of an era for her and her brothers, but she is fine and my relationship with her is as good as ever and has not changed.
Channel 4: Huge congratulations on your engagement to Sandy. Have you made wedding plans?
Ian: Thank you for your congratulations! We have a few thoughts about our wedding but no plans at the moment. When we do get married it'll be a very quiet family affair and we'll not be rushing into it yet.
Channel 4: What are your plans for the future, will you retain any ties at all with farming or move on to something completely different?
Ian: I have not made any plans for the future yet as the farm situation is still ongoing. I'll not be be leaving until the farm is sold and the uncles are settled in their new home.
Channel 4: How hard was it to make that decision and how do you feel now you've made it?
Ian: It was a very difficult decision for me to make, hence asking for help from The Audience. I do feel it is the right decision, and feel as though a weight has been lifted from my shoulders.
May on 14 September 2012 at 18:14
I feel for you Ian, i do. I Married into a Family run Farm when i was very young. Two brothers, Mum and Dad. Mum Died, Brother in law looking after Dad, Hubbie Working all time. Me Children,Hub has accident, in Hospital. Father in law Dies, still Farming with me doing a lot. wills of Parents slicing shares up. Brothers not liking each other, then B in law gets ill and dies, no will. More chopping up with shares. Siterinlaw, gets more and know wants nothing for a time, then hell is let loose. We tried to pay her out with help from Men who in time fleesed us, Sister going to court to get more conflict of interest with solicitors county councils you name it. All to save a Family Farm where my Husband and children grew up. Now we have nothing, no home ,no job too old for any thing ells.Hearts hopes killed. I saw that look in your uncles eyes,been there got the teeshirt. So if you can get out before you to get to that same wall, good luck. But the program was for your Family to see what its doing to you, not for you, you know what your going to do dont you?
Lou on 14 September 2012 at 12:05
I found it compelling viewing as did many of my farming friends around here, some who live in similar set ups. I was surprised that there didn't seem to be attempt to research alternative income sources for the farm and look at other options other than just stay or go. I would have liked Ian and The Audience to have had the opportunity to meet people who had been through similar scenarios and found alternative ways of making it work. Good luck to him and the farm. I have to say I absolutely loved seeing some of the Audience in their wellies and high fashion gear gagging at the slurry of manure and the scenes of them walking down the street like a flock of sheep. I am looking forward to the next one.
Becca on 14 September 2012 at 11:39
Wrong decision was made in selling the farm. My father in law use to be a farmer however none of his sons were interested in taking it over. He rented off the land, then used that money to convert the barns which are now rented out as well. He's making a lot more money now than he did when he was a farmer and it's a hell of a lot easier, they haven't had to move off the farm and the land is still there incase the next generation want to farm it.
Lesley on 14 September 2012 at 11:25
You made the right decision Ian. Your own life has been on hold and if you had decided to carry on for say 30 yrs, you would have been in the same situation as your uncles, perhaps with no family to run the farm for you. You would then just be delaying the sale of the farm by one generation. There really is no shame to the family in selling the farm given the extreme circumstances you were in. Years ago one or more or the male descendants would have taken the farm through the generations, but this way of life has changed now for all sorts of reasons. What quality of life would u hv had to show for carrying on for years, it's easy to underestimate what farming takes out of you if you have no one to help you. Life is for living, it's not a rehearsal!! Good luck to u and Sandy :-)
Nic on 14 September 2012 at 10:37
I feel it was a very wrong decision, farming is a way of life, not easily changed its in the blood, i feel working together and asking others who were farmers and had gone through this would have helped, instead of listening to a group of complete strangers, this should have being decided within the family
Sandy on 14 September 2012 at 07:46
Did you and Sandy ever consider moving to the farm and develop the business? There are such opportunities to link up with local colleges for example which could give a new sense of purpose to you and the farm as well as injecting both with new energy and ideas. You have such a fantastic opportunity to enhance what you have with the right direction in my view.
Nelly on 13 September 2012 at 23:41
I think selling the farm should have been the last option. Food producers rent land and do all the work surely this could have been an option. I find this quite scary that a crowd make a decision. When has a crowd of people ever made the right decision - frightening!
Anna on 13 September 2012 at 23:31
Farmers should be diversifying and if the uncles couldn't accept that - what was the point? Ian made the right choice.
Frankie on 13 September 2012 at 23:29
Well done Ian, on having the courage to take part in the programme and face a very difficult decision. I think you made the right choice. Time to live your own life now. Good luck
Sigismunda on 13 September 2012 at 23:28
What a heart wrenching decision for Ian. However, nobody spoke of the other aunts, uncles and cousins who all have family bonds to the uncles and an influence over the future of the farm. Between them, they have decided to sell the farm, the only home the uncles have ever known. Why was all the weight of responsibility about the future of the farm on Ian's shoulders? What are the other cousins doing to help?
ditt on 13 September 2012 at 22:56
I think it was the wrong decision. I think the farm should have diversified to make it a more attractive career and made the farm earn money and keep it within the family. The outcome was decided by a group of people who made a decision too quickly and selfishly, none of whom could relate to his situation or country life. Such a shame.
bettyboo on 13 September 2012 at 22:09
wrong decision...farming is in peoples blood and when u look at the farming community alot have cone down thru family. It was obvious to me it is in his blood when he said the only time he had cried was when his cockerel had died. Us townues do not understand that farming community and because of that the wrong decision was made.
tDick on 13 September 2012 at 22:03
'Accepted', not 'excepted'
The Audience Ch 4 - Farming Dilemmas
Updated: 15 Sep 2012
Channel 4's The Audience shows farming dilemmas
Updated: 14 September 2012 9:38 am |
By Ben Briggs
The Audience, Channel 4, Thursday, September 13
SITTING down to watch last night’s (Thursday) new ‘reality’ show The Audience, I was not expecting much.
What a suprise then that the dilemma faced by Cotswold farmer Ian Wainwright and whether he should leave the family farm should prove to be so gripping.
Shadowed for a week by 50 members of the public who asked him and his family questions about their life, work and relationships, the aim was they would give Ian the answer he sought.
Having worked on his elderly uncles’ dairy farm for five years receiving only minimum wage, Ian had to decide whether he should stay or whether he should go.
The long hours were placing the divorced father of three’s new relationship in trouble, but if he left the farm then he felt he was betraying his 74 and 79-year-old uncles who, after Ian’s father had left his mother, helped bring him up.
It brought into sharp focus the retirement crisis faced by many older farmers and the strain that can put on a family.
It also highlighted inheritance issues.
The uncles were two of eleven children and when their father had died he had left the farm to the family, not just to them.
And now the family wanted to sell off part of the farm.
In the end, the group told Ian he was best to leave the farm, a decision which seemed to come as a huge relief to him.
The programme was unexpectedly heart-rending and put a spotlight on the struggles faced by many farmers when it comes to knowing what to do with their futures, especially when embroiled in a complex family situation.
What it also did was show farmers as humanbeings, not merely one dimensional caricatures.
The programme should be available this week on Channel 4’s website.
Farmers & Vets are highest suicide risks-Both groups have work problems and the means
Updated: 11 Sep 2012
Work to prevent farmer suicide rate given cash boost
10 September 2012
By Ben Briggs
WORK to prevent suicides among farmers and veterinary workers is set to benefit from a £1.5million Government boost.
The pledge comes as ministers unveiled a new suicide prevention strategy to cut the suicide rate and provide more support to bereaved families.
The National Suicide Prevention Strategy is backed by the Samaritans and has been welcomed by the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI).
A Government report in to preventing suicide in England states that farmers and agricultural workers, along with veterinary staff, are classed as ‘high risk’ groups requiring more attention under the initiative.
RABI spokesman Philippa spackman said: “RABI welcomes the Government’s initiative and hopes that some of the £1.5 million research money will look at suicide among the farming community.
“The statistics are very worrying, especially given that farming already has one of the highest suicide rates of all professions and the ripple effect of every individual tragedy spreads out to affect the family and wider community.
“We know of areas where there have been several farmer suicides in the past year.
Financial problems are potential causes, but there are also significant additional issues.
“At least two farmers we know of took their lives because the person who used to complete paperwork such as livestock passports or single farm payment applications had died or moved away.
“There is also the problem of isolation as it affects mental health.
Not only do many farmers work very long hours alone, they sadly also have access to means of taking their own life, from shotguns to chemicals.”
Around 4,200 people in England took their own lives in 2010 and suicide continues to be a public health issue - especially in the current period of economic uncertainty, the Department of Health said.
The suicide rate is highest amongst men aged between 35-49, while men are three times more likely than women to take their own life, according to statistics.
Farmers shot burglary intruders on their land and at last, common sense has prevailed
Updated: 08 Sep 2012
'Gunshot farm couple will not face charges' - CPS
7 September 2012
THE couple who were arrested after a shotgun was fired at intruders on their farm have been told by the Crown Prosecution Service they will not face charges.
Andy and Tracey Ferrie were arrested on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm after the incident at their property in Welby, Leicestershire, on Sunday.
They were released on bail as police announced two men as been charged with burgling the property.
The CPS said it was a case where the ‘householders faced with intruders in frightening circumstances, acted in reasonable self-defence’
Farming- Spelman and Paice sacked. They couldn't see the wood for the trees ?
Updated: 06 Sep 2012
Jim Paice sacked in reshuffle, replaced by David Heath
4 September 2012 | By Alistair Driver
FARMING Minister Paice has been sacked in the Government reshuffle and will be replaced by Liberal Democrat David Heath, MP for Somerton and Frome.
It is understood Mr Paice was informed that he had lost his job early this afternoon as he was walking around the Livestock 2012 event, in Birmingham.
Earlier Mr Paice had admitted he was uncertain about his future but stressed that he hoped to keep his job in order to continue pushing forward issues the has embraced during his two years in the post, such as fighting for a fairer deal for dairy farmers, culling badgers to tackle bovine TB and cutting red tape.
Mr Paice’s departure, which was greeted with dismay by industry leaders at the Livestock 2012 event, follows the decision to replace Defra Secretary Caroline Spelman with former Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson.
Mr Paice, who was one of the oldest Ministers in Government and spent many years as a Shadow Farming Minister before assuming his current post, knew he was vulnerable as Prime Minister David Cameron undertook his first major reshuffle.
But it comes as something of a surprise that both he and Mrs Spelman have been removed at the same time, leaving two new Ministers to grapple with complex policy areas like CAP reform and bovine TB as they reach critical points.
Farming- "GM IS part of the solution"
Updated: 27 Aug 2012
Q&A with Professor Watson - '
GM is a part of the solution to feed the world'
24 August 2012 | By Olivia Midgley
BEFORE leaving for America to continue his work on sustainable development,
Defra’s chief scientific adviser Prof Robert Watson spoke to Olivia Midgley about the issues agriculture has faced during his five years in the department.
Do you think the public’s attitude to GM is changing?
It is such a controversial issue, but I think there is more acceptance of it.
I believe the public is suspicious of privately funded research, but they have slightly more confidence in Government funded research, so I would like to see more public/private partnerships.
I think the scientists conducting the aphid resistant wheat trials at Rothamsted did a really good job and the media handled it well. The issue provided a lot of opportunity for discussion.
GM scientists have over-promised and for a long while they have said we will have a drought resistant crop and a vitamin A enhanced crop. I think we need a bit more stuff on the ground so we can say we have really researched this and we now have the products which need to be seriously considered.
Are environmental schemes making a difference in the UK?
I personally think pillar two in the Common Agricultural Policy is crucial and we simply must have money available to work with farmers, increase production and decrease the environmental footprint.
We need to revisit the Entry Level Scheme (ELS) and Higher Level Schemes (HLS) and ask whether they are actually good value for money.
The National Ecosystem
Assessment tended to suggest the ELS was probably not doing all that much for the environment and not all HLS schemes were, either.
We need to take a look at both schemes and ask which investments are producing the best environmental outcomes which are consistent with good agricultural productivity.
Does agriculture need to do more to mitigate climate change?
I personally have a lot of confidence in the climate change models and believe it is a very serious issue.
Globally, agriculture contributes 15 per cent and it is about 7 per cent in the UK. But the full food chain with transport costs, deforestation to provide more pasture for livestock and so on, is really about 20 per cent.
We have to increase food production and have less emissions to feed between nine and 10 billion people by 2050.
What do you think of the progress which has been made with the badger cull?
I believe the decision was made on good evidence. I can understand secretary of state Caroline Spelman’s decision and the decision Hilary Benn made four years ago, too.
Mrs Spelman had additional information as we had gathered three more years of data which actually showed when you went further out in time, the positive effects of culling were maintained and the negative perturbation disappeared.
Will it solve the national problem? No.
We need to continue with movement controls and push hard for a cattle and badger vaccination and demonstrate it works.
The Government is committed to the pilots, but at the moment we are in the hands of the courts.
Is GM technology a solution?
GM is not the only solution.
GM may play a role but we also have to solve rural development issues in developing countries, such as distortions in international trade, access to fertilisers and lack of finance for the best seeds.
There are also a number of other issues such as access to irrigation, routes to market and behavioural issues which need looking at in order to make the best use of the technology we have available today.
Profile: Prof Robert Watson
Prof Watson was born in March 1948 in Romford, Essex
He took up his role at Defra in 2007 and continued to work at the University of East Anglia, taking a role as professor of environmental sciences and director of strategic development
He was knighted in the 2012 New Year’s honours list for his Government service
Prof Watson will be replaced by Prof Ian Boyd, who is the current director of the Scottish Oceans Institute at the University of St Andrews and the sea mammal research unit
Farming- Business cash for Cumbria- "Give us a hand out to revive us again"
Updated: 22 Aug 2012
£3.5m cash boost to rural firms in Cumbria
21 August 2012 | By Olivia Midgley
NINE hundred jobs and 500 new businesses will be created in Cumbria following a £3.5m cash injection in the rural community.
Announcing the funding as part of his Rural Roadshow in the area today (Tuesday), Farming Minister Jim Paice said a Rural Growth Network will be set up to help rural areas overcome the barriers to economic growth such as a shortage of business premises and poor broadband access.
Defra Rural Roadshows allow ministers to hear first-hand about rural issues from communities and businesses, to learn about successes and challenges and discover what help is needed to support rural growth and jobs.
Mr Paice is visiting the Blencathra Business Centre in Keswick which will be transformed into eight new work premises with business services including one-to-one business advice, online training, networking opportunities and access to superfast broadband.
Entrepreneurs will have new work space to start up their companies and jobs will be created as local businesses get the support they need to grow.
It is one of the Rural Growth Network’s ‘enterprise hubs’ planned for rural areas across Cumbria, which will deliver business support to a range of sectors, including food and drink, adventure sports and digital and creative enterprises.
Mr Paice said: “Too often, business people are held back by not being able to find work premises, having no access to superfast broadband, or being unable to expand their skills without travelling into a city. The Rural Growth Network will take down these barriers to growth and enable local businesses to turn their ambitions into reality.”
The Rural Growth Network is part of the £165 million programme of measures that the Government is delivering to grow business and create new job prospects in rural areas.
In a further boost for the region’s rural economy, a new £15 million investment is announced today to enable top local employer Lake District Creamery to take up new opportunities in the export market.
Mr Paice will visit the company in Aspatria where he will hear how it has developed its processing facilities and upgraded its boiler house in order to branch out into the energy drinks industry.
Lake District Creamery, owned by First Milk, a consortium of 2,000 farmers, has recently secured an export deal to supply cheese sticks to Emirates Airlines, which will see around six million portions being consumed by passengers in the next year.
South Lakes Mp Tim Farron welcomed the investment, but added there was more work to be done.
He said: “This is fantastic news and another success in our campaign to bring jobs and investment to Cumbria. I am doing all I can to support the economy and provide well paid jobs for our community.
“Recently we helped to secure investments for GlaxoSmithKline in Ulverston and Gilkes in Kendal which will create 800 jobs and safeguard hundreds of others. This bid will also help us to unlock extra funding from the private sector. We can and must do even more however and that is why I will continue to work to make the South Lakes Cumbria’s economic hub.”
Farming-UK Feed Wheat yields down as contracts reach £200ton
Updated: 21 Aug 2012
Cereals markets rise as wheat hits £200/t
20 August 2012 | By Howard Walsh
UK feed wheat has reached new contract highs in excess of £200/tonne through to July 2013.
The firmer tone began last Friday when November 2012 London futures closed at £200.25/t on Friday and was trading at £202/t early Monday.
Trading remained around that level and for January next year was at £201.05, £201.85 for March, £204.75 for May and £207.65 for July 2013.
The HGCA said on Monday variable UK yield and quality were supporting the market although fine weather allowed UK harvest to progress across the South and East over the weekend.
Specific weights were (anecdotally) improving as harvest progressed and mycotoxinlevels were generally lower than feared despite some high samples.
The Ensus bioethanol plant’s imminent re-opening continues to firm the demand side of the UK wheat balance.
Meanwhile malting barley export prices firmed considerably with UK new crop now at €264t (£207/t) FOB week ending August 14.
HGCA’s ex-farm spot prices for August show UK malting barley at only a £9/t premium over feed barley (£176.6/t and £167.7/t respectively), while UK feed barley is currently at a £28/t discount to feed wheat.
French malting barley new crop prices slipped to €243/t (£191/t)and France could be looking at a near record malting barley surplus.
Farming- Scottish Independence- UK Minister fears breakaway of superior Scottish label
Updated: 18 Aug 2012
Scottish independence would hurt farmers, warns Paice
17 August 2012 | By Olivia Midgley
SCOTTISH rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead has dismissed claims farmers will be left worse off by independence as ‘scaremongering’.
Speaking exclusively to Farmers Guardian, the Scottish National Party (SNP) MSP said previous UK Governments had let Scotland down and independence would avoid ‘past mistakes being repeated’.
But critics, including UK farming Minister Jim Paice, said Scottish farmers would be hindered by independence.
It comes as Holyrood finalises the details of Scotland’s 2014 independence referendum.
Mr Lochhead said his party wanted to build on the ‘positive experiences’ of devolution and ultimately get a ‘better deal’ for the country’s farmers.
“At long last our farmers feel their distinctive needs are being taken into account and they are being listened to by a Government on their doorstep,” he said.
“When animal diseases such as foot-and-mouth impacted, the Scottish Government was able to offer quick and effective financial support, whereas the UK Government in London washed its hands of the problem and turned a deaf ear to our industry’s pleas.”
He said ‘scaremongering about border control and red tape’ were ‘out of date’ and Scotland could be a ‘powerful ally’ supporting the rest of the UK when there was a common interest in Brussels.
“The message is we don’t want past mistakes to be repeated. Scotland receives the lowest level of Single Farm Payment in these islands, as well as the lowest level of rural development funding across the whole of Europe.
“These stark statistics underline why we need a stronger voice speaking up for Scotland’s farmers and crofters in Europe.”
But Mr Paice slammed Mr Lochhead’s stance, adding Scotland on its own would be one of the smallest states in the EU with ‘virtually no clout’, as opposed to Scotland in the UK, which carries a large voting participation.
He said: “Does Richard Lochhead really want to sit around the table as a state with the same amount of votes as Latvia?
“Or does he want to sit as part of a major block of votes when discussing important agricultural policy such as the CAP.”
Scottish Labour and Conservative politicians echoed Mr Paice’s comments and Aberdeenshire farmer Maitland Mackie said independence would be a ‘tragedy’.
“There is a romantic image that we would be better off by ourselves,” said Mr Mackie.
“But Scottish producers would become foreign suppliers in 90 per cent of the current market. And they have to think about our beef premium and what will happen to that if there is a border created.”
But Isle of Mull beef and sheep farmer Bert Leitch dismissed any border-related issues as ‘scare stories’.
He said: “It’s not as if we are going to have a big fence across the border.”
Farming - Crown Estates -The Return of the Feudal Landlord
Updated: 11 Aug 2012
Crown Estate rent review could bankrupt tenants – TFA
10 August 2012 | By Olivia Midgley
THE Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) has spoken out against the ‘hard-line approach’ being taken by The Crown Estate on farm rent reviews this year.
TFA chief executive George Dunn said the Crown Estate, a diverse property business valued at more than £8 billion, must reconsider its proposals, if tenant farmers are to ensure the viability of their businesses.
“In the past The Crown Estate has taken a commercial approach tempered with a willingness to engage positively with its farm tenants to reach solutions which are sustainable both for the business of the tenant farmer and the return to The Crown Estate,” said Mr Dunn.
“More recently it appears interested only in exacting the highest rent possible whatever the consequences. I fear that its attitude will push many tenant farmers into unsustainable positions”.
Last year the TFA applauded The Crown Estate for developing a variable Farm Business Tenancy (FBT) which was an attempt to deal with the increasing volatility in commodity markets.
“The variable FBT was indeed a good idea as its intention was to base the level of rent, to some extent, on the price received by the tenant farmer for commodities he sold, principally grain,” added Mr Dunn.
“However, even here The Crown Estate is demanding a very high fixed element and an unsustainable proportion of the resultant sale price as the variable element. This is not what the TFA signed up to.”
The association said there was a suggestion that the increases were being driven by the Treasury which takes in full the profit made by The Crown Estate each year.
Mr Dunn said this hard lined approach could eventually force tenants out of business.
He added: “The Treasury needs to understand that supporting sustainable business that creates jobs and profitability in rural areas is the way to see growth and a path out of recession. Consigning businesses to bankruptcy for the sake of the short-term gain is not in anyone’s interests.”
Farming- Biomass - The renewable energy debate
Updated: 11 Aug 2012
What do you think of the Government’s current promotion
of renewable energy?
10 August 2012
DR Jonathan Scurlock from the NFU thinks the promotion is sending confusing messages
Thirty per cent of farmers have now diversified into renewables, enjoying additional income streams, more stable energy costs and lower CO2 emissions.
However, our Westminster and Whitehall decision-makers are sending out confusing, and even negative, messages about their commitment to clean energy.
The recent delay in announcing the 2013-2017 round of the Renewables Obligation threatened farmers’ chances to participate in biomass fuel supply, invest in anaerobic digesters and gain rent or income from larger projects.
There is a dangerous lack of joined-up thinking between the recent settlement on the future of Feed-in Tariffs (FiTs) and the proposal to close the Renewables Obligation to medium-sized installations under five megawatts.
This will put additional strain on limited FiTs budgets for supporting growth in smaller wind power and on-farm AD projects.
The agricultural sector is not alone in its criticism - the CBI has highlighted the political need for a more coherent approach to energy and climate change.
The NFU’s Farming Delivers campaign anticipates land-based renewables could supply as much as a quarter of Britain’s clean energy needs in the near future.
We strongly endorse calls from Lib Dem president Tim Farron MP for Defra and DECC to join forces on an ‘agri-renewables strategy’, following the example set by the Scottish Government.
Dr Jonathan Scurlock is chief adviser on Renewable Energy at the National Farmers Union (NFU).
Farming- Eisteddfod - Not yet committed to Welsh food
Updated: 11 Aug 2012
Push for Welsh Eisteddfod to source local produce
10 August 2012 | By Barry Alston
A Welsh farmers’ leader wants the world renowned National Eisteddfod to make a commitment in the future to Welsh food procurement on the site of the annual cultural festival.
Welcoming the Maes Gwyrdd “Green Field” initiative at this year’s Eisteddfod taking place in the Vale of Glamorgan, Farmers Union of Wales deputy president Glyn Roberts says one of its aims is to promote, protect and advance a long term future by using environmentally sustainable practices.
“But I believe the eisteddfod should acknowledge the importance of agriculture within its definition of sustainability, both environmentally and economically,” he says.
“So I hope the Eisteddfod will source more local food in the future through its policy for food outlets on the Maes.
“To achieve this I firmly believe the Eisteddfod authorities must encourage the use of Welsh food and drink throughout the festival site.
“I believe sustainability starts within our local communities where an increasing number of farmers are producing their own top quality food and drink products.
“But a community will only be sustainable if it can support a local economy strong enough to prevent migration and an environment able to nurture its farming industry.
“I would really like to see the thousands of visitors who attend the Eisteddfod every year given the opportunity to sample and discover more details about the wide range of Welsh produce now available across the country.
“According to the Eisteddfod’s own website, it’s estimated that £1.5 million will be spent on food on the Maes but they only seem to be ‘encouraging’ and is ‘particularly interested’ in food suppliers from Wales,” added Mr Roberts.
“I strongly believe the organisers should go further than this and set down a minimum standard for the percentage of Welsh food and drink supplies provided on the Maes.”
Farming - Milk Processors Profits - The Pinta Protest continues
Updated: 11 Aug 2012
Dairy protests continue across the UK
10 August 2012 | By Ryan Wood
DAIRY farmers have gathered outside the gates of milk processors across the UK for another night to push for increases to the amount producers are paid for their milk.
Almost 400 protesters travelled to Arla’s plant in Leeds to continue their fight for a fairer milk price.
The crowd was largely made up of farmer’s wives, children and young farmers who managed to blockade the plant, preventing lorry drivers from entering and leaving until 3am.
A similar protest at the end of last month provoked an aggresive repsonse from police but FFA’s Harold Woolgar, who was present last night, spoke highly of the local officers.
“It was completely opposite to back in July.
The Head Officer and the lorry drivers were brilliant.
They were all very understanding of the situation and even had small links to dairy farmers themselves,” he told Farmers Guardian.
At one point during the protest on 24 July a line of 30 police officers told about 300 protestors they would be arrested if the didn’t move away from the front gates of the Arla factory.
But by 11pm the police presence dwindled and shortly after protesters dispursed.
Arla are still bearing the brunt of protests around the UK and Mr Woolgar, who was an agricultural student in 1957, can’t understand why milk producers are being taken advantage of.
“Milk is a live product. You can’t plan an 18 month cycle for a price cut. How do you run a business like that?
“My hat goes off to Waitrose, they are brilliant. Asda need a talking to though and Arla supply them.
Back when I was a student, both beer and milk cost just under 5p per pint and now beer will cost you £2.50.
Milk prices are too low.”
The general feeling of the protests last night was directed at improving the situation for young farmers.
“I’m an old man now and the object of the protests for me is to support the youngsters.
They need a future.
We would all be happy to make 1ppl profit and this would help sustain dairy farming in the future,” he said.
Farming- Grain Markets- All According to the weather
Updated: 08 Aug 2012
Grain markets keep close eye on harvest
ALTHOUGH UK November current year feed wheat futures fell £6.80 per tonne last week to £187.70/t, early trades on Monday morning saw values rise by £5.30/t to £193/t.
May 2013 trading again saw the £200/t mark reached.
The HGCA reported UK delivered rapeseed prices were down last week, with typical values at £387/t for November delivery, down £17/t for the week.
The reason suggested is that rain in the US corn belt is more beneficial to soyabeans – the driver for rapeseed prices – than maize.
UK delivered grain prices were also lower last week. November feed wheat in East Anglia was £189/t at Thursday’s market close, down £6/t on the week.
Frontier trading director John Duffy said the market had been speculating, in part, on another Russian export ban.
“Stats from this part of the world have to be taken with caution, but the Russian Ag Ministry this week said the wheat harvest was 22 per cent complete – only 7 per cent this time last year – and that yields were 28 per cent down,” said Mr Duffy.
With the UK’s own harvest about to get underway, he said there were real fears in the market about quality and yield.
“The market will be watching harvest data closely. The global wheat and corn market will continue to feed off weather and politics, but last week reminded us we cannot forget about the persisting macro-economic uncertainty.”
Farming- Who is Milking Whom ?
Updated: 31 Jul 2012
Dairy protests to resume by end of week - Handley
Standing four square with the "food" producers - the Radical
SOS DAIRY milk protests will resume by the end of the week, with retailers Iceland and Farm Foods the likely targets, Farmers For Action chairman David Handley has warned.
Mr Handley was speaking after a meeting of the coalition of UK farming organisations that have been campaigning against milk price cuts for the past few weeks.
There has been a lull in protest action since the big three UK milk processors and co-operative First Milk all announced they were cancelling farmgate milk price cuts due to take effect from August 1, a period that has also coincided with the start of the London Olympics.
But Mr Handley said the focus of the coalition was now entirely on ‘getting money back’ from cuts already imposed on dairy farmers in May and June.
“We start all over again. No-one is off the hook,” Mr Handley said. “It is pretty obvious - knowing the history of the industry - that the major retailers played a part in what went on in May and June.
What we want now is total is total transparency from the retailers so we know that none of the money they put into the pot to get the August 1 cuts rescinded was money they took off in May and June.”
“There has also got to be transparency from the processors to show where the money went and who had it.
“Whoever gives us the most bullshit will get the first bit of punishment.
I would think we will be protesting before the week is out.
We have been holding back for nearly four days, but we have got some evidence coming back now about where they are all at and, already, we think we know who needs to be targeted.
Farm Foods and Iceland are top of the agenda.”
He said that the coalition was holding strong and continued to be united in how it tackles the crisis that has engulfed the sector over the past few months.
He said the coalition was also looking to the longer term to put the structures in place to ensure ‘we never get into this mess again’.
NFU chief dairy adviser Robert Newbery said, as well as imminent protests, there would be close scrutiny of the milk processors to ensure there is ‘no creative accounting going on’ and that all price increases that have been announced since the start of the campaign make their way back to farmers in full.
He said the Women’s Institute would be leading the process of scrutinising how the money coming from retailers and consumers is being used.
Farming- Dairy Farmers reject latest offer -spend another night on the road
Updated: 25 Jul 2012
Dairy farmers spend another night blockading processors
24 July 2012 | By Scott Casey
Dairy farmers have gathered outside the gates of milk processors across the UK for another night to push for increases to the amount producers are paid for their milk.
The biggest turn outs were at Muller’s Market Drayton plant, with farmers blockading gates with tractors and silage wagons, while at Arla’s plant in Leeds about 450 farmers and supporters turned out to protest.
“People go on about people working in sweat shops, well I work in a sweat shop, I’m nearly fifty and I’ve never earnt the minimum wage in my life and I’ve been dairy farming since I left school.
That says something about dairy farming,” said Mark Berry from Milk Price, a farmers group from Clitheroe, Lancashire which is associated with protest co-ordinators Farmers For Action.
“There’s a lot of small farms around us, [with] 100-150 cows, just family farms and we can’t make a living.
“It’s the effort you’ve got to put in, all you’re working for is the banks and the dairy companies and we’ve got two options; we either fight until we’re locked up or we go out of business…and I’m not going out of business.”
At one point in Leeds a line of 30 police officers told about 300 protestors they would be arrested if the didn’t move away from the front gates of the Arla factory.
“They [police] gave us five minutes to move,” said Mr Berry.
“Then nobody moved, so they said ‘Everybody who is standing here we are going to arrest’, so everybody sat down.
They didn’t know what do do then.”
By 11pm in Leeds the police presence dwindled following this stand off.
Earlier on Tuesday (24 July) Asda, one of the retailers targeted by dairy farmers protests, announced it would lift prices to 29.5p per litre for its 272 dedicate suppliers.
Mr Berry didn’t think this would placate farmers but would motivate them to protest.
“I think we’ve got them moving a little bit on the price and think we’re just going to keep getting more and more people involved,” he said.
“That price they announced today is a waste of time because it only gets you up to the cost of production, they are only giving back to us what they took off us and it’s only for the supermarket contract producers.
It’s the rest of us that need the price up about 30p.
“And me for one I’m not stopping protesting until we get 35p because I’m sick of working for nothing.
I’m working 100 hours a week for £200, I’m not working for £2 an hour, it’s slave labor.”
In total about 450 farmers gathered in Leeds, less than half that was expected, with many believed to have stayed away to take advantage of the good weather to make silage and bale hay after recent persistent rain.
And those assembled in Leeds were prepared to stay for the long haul.
“Last week I stopped here at two o’clock, I got home at half past three, and I got up at four to go milking.
I have to leave here at 3am to be home to go milking so I’ll be here until then,” Mr Berry said.
Farming- Dairy Farmers Conned by Voluntary Code- But will they accept it ?
Updated: 24 Jul 2012
What dairy farmers can expect from voluntary code
23 July 2012 | By Alistair Driver
DAIRY farmers will be free to exit milk contracts with three months’ notice if prices are changed against their will, under the broad principles of a new code of practice agreed today.
Agreement on new ‘heads of terms’ for a dairy industry code of best practice on contractual relations was finally reached after lengthy meetings between the NFU, NFU Scotland and Dairy UK, chaired by Farming Minister Jim Paice, at the Royal Welsh show on Monday.
The parties engaged in the process have welcomed the agreement as a step forward but have stressed that it is little more than a framework at this point, with work on the finer detail of how it will operate still to be thrashed out by the end August.
The heads of terms do, however, establish a number of minimum requirements and new provisions for dairy contracts between farmers and milk buyers.
The code stipulates that dairy farmers must receive at least 30 days’ notice of a price change and retrospective price adjustments are no longer acceptable.
It also puts in place conditions that must be met, where a purchaser wishes to use their discretion to set farm gate milk prices. These include:
A commitment to engage with farmers and their representatives.
A commitment to maintain prices within mutually agreed parameters.
Where a farmer disagrees with a price change, the right of the producer to exit the contract with three months’ notice.
The code also stipulates that farmers should be allowed to supply more than one processor, where their primary milk buyer seeks to cap their production and the right to automatic contractual release for producers from insolvent purchasers.
For long periods the biggest sticking point in the negotiations on the code, which began more than a year ago, was the NFU’s demand for farmers to be able to exit contracts at three months when prices are changed against their will.
Dairy Crest agreed to this change in its own contracts last week but at least one of the other two big processors, Wiseman and Arla, is understood to have resisted until the last minute.
NFU President Peter Kendall said that while the announcement ‘gave some hope for the long term it did not solve the dairy farming issues of today’.
“This agreement will give us the architecture we need to make sure that we don’t end up with the same dysfunctional markets that are responsible for the dairy crisis we have today,” he said.
NFU Scotland urged caution, commenting via its Twitter feed: “Haud the bus!
No one has agreed a dairy code!
Terms of reference for negotiation in August have been agreed - Big Difference!”
Mr Paice said the code would means future contracts between farmers and dairy processors will be ‘freely negotiated, fairer and more transparent’.
“I welcome the commitment all sides have shown to reaching an agreement.
The Government will continue to work with all parts of the industry to secure its long-term future, including promoting farmers working together in Producer Organisations,” he said.
He also announced that Defra Ministers will be meeting retailers individually on Wednesday to talk about increasing dairy industry sustainability through greater sourcing and promotion of British dairy products.
Dairy UK said it was ‘very pleased’ heads of agreement have been reached on the voluntary code of practice but that there was now ‘a lot of work to be done in taking the code to the implementation stage’.
Farming- FFA -Blockades of Milk Plants just the start.
Updated: 21 Jul 2012
Recent blockades just the start, vows FFA
20 July 2012 | By Alistair Driver
FARMERS For Action has warned processors and retailers Thursday night’s protests represent just the start of a sustained period of action until the recent milk price cuts are reversed.
FFA will be out in force again tonight and possibly over the weekend, the protest group’s vice-chairman Andrew Hemming told Farmers Guardian.
He said the combination of direct and face-to-face talks between farm industry leaders and processors and retailers appeared to be making progress.
An estimated 1,500 farmers blockaded three major milk professing plants on Thursday night.
“We are really pleased with turnout nationally – that’s almost 20 per cent of dairy farmers affected.
The message has gone out loud and loud and clear to the processors and the retailers,” said Mr Hemming, who led a protest at Ashby-de-la-Zouch, in Leicestershire.
“I know there are consumer awareness campaigns in various supermarket car parks today. We are out again tonight in the Midlands area. I think something is happening up in Yorkshire as well. We may well be out on Sunday again.”
“We are now only 10 days from the deadline (August 1, when the latest round of price cuts are due to take effect.) We will keep the pressure now,” he said.
He added that negotiations between processors and supermarkets and industry leaders from the coalition of organisations fighting under the SOS Dairy banner are ‘making progress’, as the direct action gathers pace. “I understand, after last night, there have been positive noises,” he said.
Around 700 farmers, around 150 of which arrived on tractors and other vehicles, blockaded a Wiseman plant near Bridgwater, in Somerset, holding up approximately 100 milk tankers and delivery lorries.
Around 400 farmers turned up at two similar protests targeting Arla plants at Ashby-de-la-Zouch and Leeds, where in excess of 100 vehicles at the two events were held up.
Mr Hemming also welcomed the ‘brilliant’ media coverage of the protests and the wider issues surrounding the milk price crisis and the intervention of celebrities like Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, who have openly voiced their support for the farmers.
Arla insisted it ‘only exists as an organisation to serve the interest of farmers’ and could do little about the recent price cuts.
“Arla Foods is a dairy company that is owned by European farmers including farmers in the UK who have a stake in the business,” a spokesman said.
“We only exist as an organisation to serve the interest of farmers. We are deeply concerned about the pressures the recent price cuts are having on our farmers.
“It’s a tough time and we are not happy about the situation.
Reducing the milk price is always the last resort.
We literally have exhausted all other options.
We are working very hard to secure better returns for our supplying farmers.”
Farming- Co-op increases milk price to 29ppl
Updated: 21 Jul 2012
Co-op increases milk price to 29ppl following industry pressure
20 July 2012 | By Alistair Driver
THE Co-operative Group has announced it is to increase the price it pays to its farmer suppliers by more than 2p to 29 pence per litre.
The premium its Co-operative Dairy Group farmers receive will rise to 2.57ppl with immediate effect, taking the price to 29ppl with immediate effect.
The premium will rise again on August 1 to 4.27ppl to offset processor price reductions due to take effect from that date and maintain the price at the same overall level.
The Co-op had previously announced that it would pay an increased premium of 2.0ppl from August 1.
But the additional hike in price was announced on Friday afternoon, following talks with the NFU and a night of protest targeting major processors by farmers.
The Co-op had also come under pressure from both farmers and customers who questioned its ethical credentials given its refusal, unlike, Tesco and Sainsbury’s, to pay a milk price linked to cost of production.
Co-operative Food chief executive Food Steve Murrells said: “We have a track record of supporting British farmers, and we recognise the importance of ensuring a long-term, sustainable future for British dairy farmers.
“We have been in continual discussions on this issue with the National Farmers Union and we have listened to their concerns.
We are taking this action to help alleviate the immediate pressures that farmers within the CDG are facing. Going forward, we are committed to finding a supply model that is sustainable for the long-term future of our dairy farmers.”
NFU president Peter Kendall welcomed the move and called for Asda and Morrisons, who he accused of ‘making a mockery of the situation farmers are facing’, to follow suit.
“We are really pleased by the positive response from The Co-operative today in lifting its milk price significantly and moving towards a sustainable funding model for the future.
The company’s recognition of the real difficulties being faced by British farmers this summer and commitment to support them through these difficult times is to be applauded,” he said.
“However, we now need to see all retailers and major buyers step up to the plate.
We have yet to see substantial moves from either Asda or Morrisons, who are now waging war with each other on milk prices, a move that appears to make a mockery of the situation farmers are facing.”
He added that the spotlight will now turn on the other retail chains, the discounters, the middle ground and the major food catering companies, who buy sizeable volumes of milk.
The Co-op move represents a success for the industry coalition made up of the NFU, RABDF, NFU Scotland, NFU Cymru, TFA and FFA that is calling for price cuts intended for August 1 to be scrapped and for price cuts already put in place in the past few months to be rescinded.
Farming - Milk - A Natural Food under threat
Updated: 21 Jul 2012
Furious dairy farmers stage mass protests
Radical - This article headlines in the Morning Star today -
No mention of the Farmers mass protest appears on the front page of the
Guardian,Independent,Telegraph and Mail at the time of my report
Friday 20 July 2012
Britain's angry dairy farmers will escalate mass protests over the weekend as they lash out at milk price cuts which threaten to put them out of business.
Hundreds of farmers with tractors blockaded processing plants in the early hours today and later they threatened to step up demonstrations elsewhere over the next few days.
They are swapping their fields for the streets because they say they are being paid less for their milk than it costs to produce it - a recipe for disaster.
Farmers face cuts of up to 2p a litre - but if there is an exodus from dairy production milk prices would rise long-term.
Some farmers are threatening to pour milk down the drains at their farms rather than send it to market.
National Farmers Union president Peter Kendall flew to Denmark today to talk to chiefs at milk processor Arla and he plans further meetings with other processors.
But the main force behind the protests is Farmers for Action - a more militant group of farmers formed in May 2000 because they were disillusioned by what they saw as ineffective representation.
Chairman David Handley, a dairy farmer from Monmouthshire in South Wales, warned that if the cuts issue continues to boil farmers will make the "ultimate sacrifice" and not send it to market.
He said milk processors had "got greedy and they have squeezed us and squeezed us to the point we have got to. We have got to fight for the industry because if we don't, the industry is going to go."
A spokesman for Country Standard, a monthly radical magazine for rural workers, explained: "Dairy farmers were particularly disadvantaged as they sell a highly perishable product in a consolidated market, often with little choice of to whom to sell.
"The current system of contracts between farmers and processors falls short of the standards set out by the European Commission and gives little certainty and confidence to farmers."
About 550 farmers and 120 tractors were between a Robert Wiseman Dairy processing plant in Bridgwater and a nearby Morrisons supermarket distribution centre.
And around 400 farmers gathered outside the Arla plant in Ashby-de-la-Zouch, while others gathered outside its plant in Leeds.
A spokesman for Robert Wiseman Dairies said: "It is our hope that the market for liquid milk and bulk cream will quickly find a balance which will allow us to return improved prices to farmers."
Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond met dairy farmers outside Bute House in Edinburgh during a protest there.
Free milk was delivered in Scotland's capital city today to highlight the issue as a team of "Dairy Godmothers" turned milkies for 300 homes.
Farming- 950 farmers with tractors turn off the Milk supply as the Government Minister Paice fiddles
Updated: 20 Jul 2012
We're ready to cut off milk supply, farmers warn
Dairy producers threaten supermarket blockade
unless price cuts are reversed by end of month
Radical - The problem in farming is free market competition - it doesn't work -
Farmers need buyers as well as sellers
They need regulations and a Milk Marketting Board for the Dairy Industry.
But do they know it ?
Martin Hickman , Kevin Rawlinson Friday 20 July 2012
Supermarkets have been called to a Government summit over plummeting milk prices as dairy farmers threaten to bring supplies to a standstill and blockade stores.
As the dispute escalated yesterday, the chefs Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall called for shoppers to boycott grocers who pay below the cost of production.
Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall told The Independent: "Those who want to make a statement in favour of dairy farmers should stop shopping at Asda, Co-op and Morrisons."
Last night hundreds of farmers using tractors blockaded milk processing plants in Somerset and Leicestershire.
The blockades at a Robert Wiseman plant and a Morrisons distribution centre near Bridgewater, Somerset, and outside an Arla plant in Ashby-be-la-Zouch, Leicestershire, involved more than 950 farmers, campaigners from the protest group Farmers for Action said.
Protests and demonstrations were also reported in Leeds and Kent.
Supermarkets yesterday said the chefs should be attacking others who paid less for milk, such as food manufacturers.
Unless dairy processors reverse price cuts of 14 per cent imposed this summer by 1 August, farmers say they will destroy milk and blockade stores.Nigel Batten, a member of Farmers for Action, said: "These are peaceful protests but an ultimatum has already been issued that, if the milk price is not reinstated, we would be cutting off the milk supply.
We feel we have got enough consumer and farming support to bring the milk supply to a standstill."
Processors Arla Foods have cut farmgate prices by 2p per litre (ppl), Robert Wiseman Dairies and First Milk by 1.7ppl and Dairy Crest by 1.65ppl, on top of 2ppl cuts earlier.
Farmers say the dairies have slashed their margins for supplying grocers. Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, Sainsbury's and Tesco pay a premium above the farmgate price.
Others supermarkets pay premiums below the 30ppl it costs to produce milk.
In an attempt to break the deadlock, the Farming minister, James Paice, has invited supermarkets to a meeting. A spokesman for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: "He will be bringing in the supermarkets on Wednesday to see what more the supermarkets can do to support the industry."
Defra has been talking to dairies about establishing a code of practice that would allow farmers to walk away from contracts at short notice.
Mr Paice said: "Government cannot and should not set prices but I will do everything in my power to get all levels of the supply chain to make the real changes needed to guarantee the industry's long-term future."
Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall said: "The culprits are mainly Morrisons, Asda – and the Co-op. What we are seeing is bully-boy tactics on price ."
Morrisons said: "We are curious why Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall hasn't recommended boycotting users of milk outside the supermarkets who pay no subsidy whatsoever to farmers for milk."
Farming- Food or Famine -Its all according to the weather
Updated: 19 Jul 2012
Summer rain could push up price of vegetables
Wednesday 18 July 2012
Britain's farmers warned today that they are struggling to get in a fresh vegetables harvest swamped by a deluge of rain and said home-grown veggies could cost more as a result.
This will almost certainly mean more imports from countries such as Poland and the US to meet our fresh fruit and veg needs.
Farmers are warning of lower yields after recent downpours left fields waterlogged, making planting and harvesting more difficult.
Chris Gedney from Lincolnshire said that since April alone his area has been pummelled by half the rainfall it would usually expect in a whole year.
He said this puts up not only harvesting problems but also means vegetables take longer to mature before sending to market.
"Some are running up to five weeksw late. It is pretty catastrophic."
But in better news for dairy farmers supermarket milk supplier Dairy Crest said it was working on plans to offset the impact of milk price cuts.
The group behind well-known brands Cathedral City, Clover and Country Life said that measures would include the introduction of a new code of practice for milk supply contracts.
Dairy Crest is one of a number of milk producers that have slashed the price they pay farmers for milk after seeing the value of cream plummet this year.
There was a massive protest in London last week and there were demonstrations around the country over the weekend when the National Farmers Union (NFU) members targeted retail giants Asda, Morrisons and the Co-operative.
NFU said: "These protests were extremely effective at raising the simple issue to consumers - farmers who supply milk to these retailers do not receive a price that reflects the cost of production for their milk."
The union said it was completely behind more peaceful protests which highlight the crisis facing many dairy farmers.
It added that an announcement by Asda that it would ensure the planned price cut won't impact on its direct suppliers was "welcome," but still left the price below the cost of production.
The supermarket giant said it will pay 272 farmers who supply its milk an additional 2p a litre from August 1 offsetting a planned 2p cut being imposed by middle-man processor Arla.
Farming - "Asda increase price to farmers for milk but not consumers"
Updated: 18 Jul 2012
Asda to increase aligned price by up to 3ppl
17 July 2012 | By Howard Walsh
ASDA is to increase its aligned milk producer premium by 2ppl to 3ppl from August 1.
Effectively, the increase offsets the August 1 reduction in standard litre price announced by processor Arla, on which the Asda price is based.
The premium increase means the 272 AsdaDairylink farmers will continue to be paid 27.5ppl.
The additional premium is, on average, equivalent to around £30,000 a year for a Dairylink farmer and the supermarket said its decision followed a series of meetings with farmers.
Karl Martin, commercial director for dairy, said: “We have listened to the concerns of our dedicated dairy farmers and recognise the financial pressures they are under. As a result, from 1st August we will increase the premium we pay from 1p per litre to 3p per litre.
“Over the last eight years, in partnership with Arla, we have worked extremely hard to build an open, honest and transparent relationship with our farmers. We pride ourselves on listening and acting positively whenever necessary in order to ensure we operate within a sustainable supply chain.”
Mr Martin admitted: “We are fully aware that the liquid milk we purchase is only half the story. A significant amount of the cream produced by the dairy industry in the UK is sold on the global commodity market. In order to improve returns to farmers, Asda is committed to driving retail sales of British butter and cream.”
He also said the move would not result in a price increase on the shelves.
Faming- & Food -Peasants, Parsons, the Squirearchy & Land Lords - Discover the Country Standard
Updated: 16 Jul 2012
Discover the Country Standard
Sunday 15 July 2012
"For gathering together to ask for bread and work they were jailed, loaded with chains, packed into sweaty,
stifling shipholds and carried far across the seas to the grim penal settlements ...
and lifelong separation from homes and families."
Thus begins Reg Groves's paean to the Farm Workers Union, Sharpen The Sickle.
He was describing the treatment of the six men of Dorset who have gone down in history as the Tolpuddle Martyrs.
They were made to pay the price for standing up to landed interests and their Whitehall mouthpieces who were intent on crushing the idea of a union which could organise their own protection.
The mighty groundswell from the people which brought the martyrs back three years later in 1834 began the establishment of an organised labour movement which remains the only effective bulwark against ruling-class greed and cruelty to this day.
The Country Standard is not quite that old.
It has borne aloft its proud slogan "For peace and socialism in the countryside" since 1935.
And the famed campaigning zeal shown in the past against the hated tied cottage system, in defence of rural amenities and for the control of pesticides, has not been dimmed by the passage of time.
The latest issue - reaching village greens today - with its special Tolpuddle supplement features a call to arms for three rural campaigns:
- Wiring up rural areas with high-speed broadband for all, helping to create jobs as well as improving web access
- Protecting landworkers, gardeners and waste recyclers against aspergilosis caused by compost-based airborne spores attacking the skin and lungs
- Promoting the progressive rural agenda through the council elections of 2013.
If you want to know what that rural agenda is, the editorial collective has thoughtfully provided a 13-point Campaign Charter for readers to pick and mix.
It includes defending fully functioning Agricultural Wages Boards and the Gangmasters Licensing Authority, creating a "rebuild rural Britain" bank, recasting Defra to promote rural amenities and a crash job-creation programme aimed at youth, councils to raise affordable house-building funds and establishing a Cornwall parliament.
The Country Standard is proud to continue a long and honourable tradition going back to the 1381 Peasants Revolt - of rural workers prepared to stand their ground, to look the boss in the eye rather than down at their boots as mid-19th century farmworkers' leader Joseph Arch inspired his new union members at Wellesbourne.
With a heady mix of politics, music, poetry, stalls, good food and drink, the Tolpuddle Martyrs' Festival looks set to be busier than ever.
Watch for the Country Standard stand at Tolpuddle and Burston in September.
In the meantime make a date with the Skimmity Hitchers and their cider songs in the Country Standard's Tolpuddle festival supplement.
If you can't answer the article's heading "Which cider you on?" might I suggest a long, slow trip to Van Diemen's Land - but unlike the six men of Dorset there'll be no clamour to get you back.
For a 20-page full-colour tabloid, the Country Standard carries an amazing breadth and depth of material to tickle any progressive's palate.
The latest edition also includes a page on why fighting county elections is crucial with some handy hints about how to get weaving.
Labour shadow environment secretary and doughty campaigner Mary Creagh highlights the rising scandal of food poverty.
Jump on the magic carpet to learn about urban farming in Cuba, why Italian farmworkers are revolting and what age children are working in India.
Follow this year's Climate Change Jobs Caravan 3,000 miles around Britain.
Relive the Trespass at Kinder Pass and find out the shameful history of the New Forest.
Archers addicts who think the radio series gets only the NFU stance - well it wasn't always so.
Mike Pentelow remembers the Archers characters and actors proud to call themselves NUAAW members, even though - thanks to BBC "balance" - we've haven't heard a union member for 20-odd years. Robert Kett wouldn't have stood for it!
Author Margaret Callow explains how Kett led an army of farm labourers against landowners who had fenced off the common land in the 1549 Norfolk Rebellion.
Farming - Washout summer hits UK Farming hardest
Updated: 13 Jul 2012
Washout summer hits UK farming hardest
Radical- This includes Growers and allotment holders
but what is important to understand
is that most food comes from "farms"
12 July 2012 |
By Olivia Midgley
A CONSECUTIVE week of torrential rain and plummeting temperatures has added fuel to the ‘perfect storm’ circling UK agriculture, experts have said.
Extreme weather has forced farmers to house livestock indoors, putting pressure on feed and bedding stocks which has in turn pushed prices up.
The weather has also taken its toll on grain prices, and this week London’s November feed wheat futures price rose to £5/t to £185.50/t, with prices for old crop wheat jumping to £215/t.
That, coupled with the uncertainty over the timing of the harvest and estimated below average yields has put pressure on the already volatile grain market.
The north of England and Scotland has seen the worst of the weather, with heavy downpours falling on sodden land.
North and West Yorkshire were deluged, prompting the organisers of the three-day Great Yorkshire Show to pull the plug on the event after the first day.
Hebden Bridge was cast in the spotlight when areas spent several days under water.
And Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman met flood victims in Devon, where a huge clean-up operation was under way after the area saw a month’s rainfall in just a few hours.
Yorkshire arable farmer Guy Poskitt who runs a 1,618 hectare (4,000 acres) enterprise, said the situation across the UK was desperate.
“The land is very, very wet,” he said.
“We have a field of sugar beet that is eight feet under water and we are struggling to harvest crops.
And they’re not growing.
It is very dull and very wet and it going to make the job very short.”
Mr Poskitt said UK farmers could be hit even harder unless the weather picked up in the next few, key, growing weeks.
“We might have to look at importing crops from abroad,” he added.
“But if we get a bit of an Indian summer we might just be okay.”
Home-Grown Crops Association (HGCA) market analyst Jack Watts said the weather would not only delay the harvest, but there was also big concern over crop yields.
“There is a lot of uncertainty in the market,” he said.
“In May we had high crop potential but then the heavy rain in April upped the disease pressure.
But the crop wasn’t too badly affected.
“However, coming into June it was wet and very dull with extremely low sunshine hours and that is the key yield forming month for the majority of UK crops.”
It comes as the last hosepipe bans imposed amid the March drought at South East Water, Sutton and East Surrey Water, Veolia Water Central and Veolia Water Southeast, were lifted.
Farming- Time to back the Dairy Farmers - Time for better regulation in the Dairy industry
Updated: 12 Jul 2012
Paice under fire as industry unites in anger
11 July 2012
By Alistair Driver
FARMING Minister Jim Paice was given a torrid ride as dairy farmers took their anger over debilitating price cuts out on the Government at a mass industry meeting in London this week.
Around 3,000 dairy farmers from across Britain crammed into Westminster’s Methodist Central Hall in an unprecedented show of unity in response to the price cuts that are seeing most producers lose around 5p on every litre they produce.
The atmosphere was electric as Meurig Raymond, deputising for president Peter Kendall whose flight from France was cancelled, delivered a rousing opening speech, lambasting a ‘market place that doesn’t work and isn’t fair’ and demanding that processors ‘reverse these cuts by August 1’.
He called on Mr Paice to introduce contract legislation in the form of a Dairy Contracts Act (2013) that ‘fits the need of this industry’. In the meantime, he called on processors to a voluntary code of practice that gave farmers the right to terminate contracts on three months’ notice when changes are imposed their will.
“It’s time to back our dairy farmers,” he concluded.
As speakers from the coalition of UK farming organisations followed, Farmers For Action chairman David Handley received an equally rapturous reception when urged the industry to prepare for mass protest in August, if the price cuts are not restored.
“The clock is ticking,” he warned processors and supermarkets. If we don’t get something in 20 days we will have no option but to show what we are capable of,” he said.
He urged farmers to ‘cancel their holidays in August’, raising of serious disruption to milk supplies during the London Olympics.
Mr Paice began well, pledging his support for farmers and outlining steps the Government is taking to address their plight, including stepping back on plans for additional nitrate controls, tackling TB and offering new money for producer organisations.
But the mood shifted dramatically when Mr Paice, who the previous day had been embarrassed when he admitted to not knowing the price of a pint of milk in an interview, challenged farmers on whether they could do more to their costs, prompting loud booing and heckling.
Mr Paice then came under repeated fire as he insisted he would continue to pursue a voluntary solution on milk contracts, claiming agreement on a code had come ‘tantalisingly close’ in meetings on Wednesday.
He insisted the Government did not have the powers to introduce new legislation that goes beyond what is available under the EU dairy package, which he said would be of limited benefit to dairy farmers.
Farmers who spoke from the floor during the high octane three-hour meeting were generally sceptical of a voluntary code and demanded legislation.
As the mood darkened and Mr Paice was accused of patronising farmers, he responded at one point: “No I’m not going to hand my notice in. I am probably the best friend you have in Parliament.”
Quotes from #sosdairy
“Never before have I seen such an outpouring of horror and anger from farmers. Nor have I ever seen such a show of unity and determination to right the wrongs that have been inflicted on dairy farmers.”
NFU deputy president Meurig Raymond
“My main message from today - there’s an awful lot of people in the retail and processing industry who should be very, very worried.”
Farmers For Action chairman David Handley speaking to Farmers Guardian
“How do you want to be remembered as Minister of Agriculture, Mr Paice? As the doctor who put things right - or the undertaker?”
Comment from the floor
“I would say to the Minister. You have sat there and you have patronised us, and we are people, British farmers who will have voted for the Conservative Party.”
Comment from the floor
“Let me turn to the accusation that I have insulted you and been patronising. If that is the impression I have given, I apologise. But it is not the intention. I do care about the industry and feel upset that you think I have treated you in that way.
“If we haven’t got this sorted by August 1, we pull the plug.”
Farming- Milk protest to target the Olympic Games
Updated: 10 Jul 2012
We will support lawful milk protest - NFU
9 July 2012 | By Alistair Driver
THE NFU has confirmed that it will support lawful protests outside major retailers and milk processors if recent milk price cuts are not reinstated by the start of August.
On Wednesday, a coalition of UK farming organisations will host an ‘emergency dairy summit and demonstration’ in London.
At least 1,000 dairy farmers are expected to attend, with the venue, Westminster’s Central (Methodist) Hall , capable of holding double that number.
Farming Minister Jim Paice will address the event alongside NFU president Peter Kendall and representatives from NFU Scotland, NFU Cymru, Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) and Farmers for Action.
NFU chief dairy adviser Rob Newbery said the aim of the event was raise the media profile of the milk price crisis and to ‘give farmers the chance to come together to demonstrate their anger and frustration at the cuts’.
He said it would also present an opportunity to discuss possible legislation to address the problem, including around milk contracts, in a political forum.
The question of what protest action farmers should take is also certain to be discussed. Mr Newbery said the NFU would support peaceful protest.
“In the past we haven’t encouraged protests.
But this time, if we don’t get what we are looking for we will be encouraging lawful protests.
We know farmers are incredibly frustrated and we will be trying to channel that frustration through peaceful protest,” he said.
Mr Newbery said the targets would depend on how retailers and processors respond to calls by the coalition of farming bodies for all milk price cuts imposed on farmers since April 1 to be restored by August 1.
“It could well be that we turn up outside major retailers or processors where we don’t see the improvements we have called for.
We need to capture the energy that has been created by the recent price cuts and get some results.
The worm has turned,” he said.
Last Wednesday, more than 600 farmers turned out for a milk price crisis meeting in Staffordshire called at short notice by the NFU.
NFU president Peter Kendall said afterwards: “I’ve never seen such an outpouring of anger and horror.
Dairy farmers work incredibly long hours and these guys are at the end of their tether.
At 24p a litre they will not be able to produce milk.”
Farmers For Action (FFA) issued a statement last week warning processors and retailers that they face ‘serious disruption’ to milk supplies if the price cuts are not reinstated by August 1.
FFA chairman David Handley told Farmers Guardian he was ‘amazed’ at the level of support for direct action in response to the latest cuts, with even people ‘coming out of the woodwork who I never believed would support FFA’.
He added that FFA also planned to target the Olympic Games opening ceremony in order to ‘embarrass’ the Government over its lack of action to address milk prices.
In a joint statement last week the coalition of farming bodies behind this Wednesday’s event said: “There has been an unprecedented outcry of anger and frustration among farmers.
We want to harness that strength of feeling and bring together farmers from across England, Scotland and Wales to express their feelings in London.
Farmers have told us they will do whatever it takes to stand up against these cuts – Wednesday’s summit gives us that chance.”
The crisis was sparked by the latest round of price cuts, to take effect from August, announced in the past 10 days by the three big processors, Wiseman, Dairy Crest and Arla, and the co-op First Milk.
More details on Wednesday’s summit http://www.nfuonline.com/News/Dairy-%e2%80%93-what-can-I-do-/
Farming- Cheap Milk -less than the cost of production-blamed on Asda by Farmers for Action
Updated: 10 Jul 2012
Farmers for Action delivers August milk price ultimatum
5 July 2012 | By Alistair Driver
FARMERS For Action (FFA) has warned processors and retailers that it plans to disrupt retail milk supplies in August if price cuts imposed on farmers over the past few months are not reinstated.
In a statement on its website on Thursday (July 5), the farmer protest group says: “Today FFA call on all milk processors to reinstate all price cuts that have taken place since 1 April 2012.
“They have until 1 August 2012 to confirm that this will be done, if not they will need to nofity their retail customers that milk distribution will be seriously disrupted.”
Earlier in the week, FFA chairman David Handley singled out Asda as a prime target if FFA goes ahead with protests next month.
“They are still cost-cutting in the store and devaluing the product, which is having a knock on effect right the way down the supply chain,” he told Farmers Guardian.
He said he was ‘amazed’ at the level of support for direct action in the past week from individual farmers and milk companies of all sizes.
“People have been coming out of the woodwork who I never believed would support FFA.
We feel someone has to put their hands up and say we are not going to put up with this anymore,” Mr Handley said.
He added that FFA also wanted to put pressure on the Government to intervene on behalf of dairy farmers. He said the Olympic Games opening ceremony present an opportunity to ‘embarrass’ politicians on the subject of milk prices, although he stressed there were no plans to disrupt the event itself.
Retailers have defended their part in the milk price crisis, which in the past week has seen Wiseman, Dairy Crest, Arla and First Milk all cut their liquid prices by 1.5–2 pence per litre from August 1, following previous cuts imposed since April.
British Retail Consortium (BRC) spokesman Richard Dodd said, while most farmers did not supply retailers directly, the best contracts in place at the moment were being offered by retailers.
“At the moment, 11 of the top 12 best-paying milk contracts are paid by major food retailers,” he said.
“Those contracts are aimed at achieving long-term relationships that guarantee supplies and give suppliers the opportunity to get a return and invest in the future of their businesses.
The truth is that many of the farmers who are not involved in supermarket contracts would like to be.”
The processors are blaming the cuts on depressed commodity markets, particularly for cream.
Wiseman milk procurement director Pete Nicholson said the processor had sought to minimise the impact of low commodity returns on farmer milk price but ‘must now reflect the substantially lower returns from the markets which we serve’.
Farming- "Dairy Farmers are economic slaves" say Tenant Farmers Association
Updated: 10 Jul 2012
Dairy farmers are economic slaves says TFA
2 July 2012 | By Howard Walsh
Radical - UK Farmers have the second highest suicide rate after veterinary surgeons
ECONOMIC slavery is how the Tenant Farmers Association has described milk price reductions.
Its national vice chairman Stephen Wyrill also referred to “a suspicious tendency” for a price cut by one processor to be quickly followed by a price cut from another.
Sainsbury’s, he suggested, was demonstrating evidence of better practice with its feed, fuel and fertiliser cost tracking formula.
While this meant average profit levels were always fixed, it was “is a step in the right direction” keeping dairy farmers’ businesses alive and kicking.
“The TFA would encourage other major dairy companies to follow suit rather than pursuing their current, apparent objective of bringing producers to their knees,” said Mr Wyrill.
But what was really needed was the voluntary or imposed introduction of fairer contracts and greater transparency.
Mr Wyrill was also critical of producer investment in processing capacity.
“This has been ongoing for a number of years on the basis that the profits will be fed back to primary producers as the new capacity comes on stream.
However there is no evidence that this has happened or ever will happen.
“With dairy farmers struggling to make ends meet, surely the dairy companies should be offering to help and invest in farmer’s businesses,” he said.
Farming - Milk -A poor return by processors & supermarkets threaten supplies during Olympics
Updated: 09 Jul 2012
Farmers who helped bring Britain to halt in fuel strikes
threaten Olympic protests at milk price cuts
By Tim Shipman, Deputy Political Editor
PUBLISHED: 01:58, 7 July 2012 | UPDATED: 01:58, 7 July 2012
..Dairy farmers have threatened to disrupt the Olympics in protest at further cuts in the dwindling amount they are paid for milk.
The protest group that helped bring Britain to a halt during the fuel strikes of 2000 says it is prepared to do the same during the London Games next month.
Farmers are in despair because processors and retailers have slashed milk prices by as much as 4p a litre in the past three months.
This means the average farmer gets less than 25p for a litre of milk, which costs around 30p to produce.
The farmers who brought Britain to a halt during the 2000 fuel protests have threatened to disrupt the Olympics over milk prices
Farmers for Action has called for members to take action to affect milk supplies, and has threatened to do so during the Olympics.
It has not spelled out plans, but members could cause gridlock during the Games by mounting motorway blockades, as during the fuel protests with hauliers 12 years ago.
More...Help me I'm stuck upside down in a bush! Anger at RAF helicopter rescue of model plane enthusiast who jumped into gorse to find his aircraft
Fuel price 'rip-off' should be investigated by fair trading watchdog, say MPs as retailers fail to pass on savings
David Handley, of the campaign group, said farmers were ‘angry and frustrated’ that they had been ‘robbed’.
‘If we don’t get reinstatement [reversing price cuts], we are looking at disruption of milk supplies,’ he said.
‘That could come in many forms.’
Speaking about the Olympics, he added: ‘Part of our action is likely to disrupt that and that is unfortunate, but we are in desperation street.’
He spoke out after the three main milk processors, which supply all the big supermarkets, announced they would slash up to 2p off a litre, taking it well below cost price.
The average dairy farmer is expected to lose £50,000 to £60,000 as a result.
From August 1, Dairy Crest will cut the amount it pays per litre by 1.65p, Robert Wiseman Dairies is shaving 1.7p off and Arla Foods UK will cut its payments by 2p a litre.
Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and M&S all agree deals with their farmers that ensure they pay an amount that matches the costs of production.
But Asda, Morrisons and the Co-op agree to pay only 1p over the basic price from Wiseman, Dairy Crest and Arla, meaning their farmers have seen incomes slashed in recent months.
Dairy farmers without a supermarket deal are hit even harder.
Welsh farmers during the 2000 protests.
They are threatening to disrupt the Olympics over the price of milk
National Farmers’ Union president Peter Kendall said: ‘Dairy farmers are at the end of their tether.’
He played down the prospect of disruption of the Olympics, saying: ‘We’ll look at ways of raising the profile with retailers who are looking after farmers.
Farmers will probably stand outside shops and say these guys are not looking after farmers.’
But some are angry that they are suffering just weeks before the Olympic opening ceremony highlights Britain’s agricultural heritage.
Dairy farmer James Park said: ‘Dairy farming will be showcased in the opening ceremony showing Britain as a green and pleasant land.
‘How ironic this is far from the truth as dairy farmers are facing culling their herds and packing up farming. We are in a desperate situation.’
Steven James, of the NFU in Wales, said some dairy farmers were threatening to pour their milk down the drain while others were planning to block distribution centres.
Downing Street announced Agriculture Minister Jim Paice is to hold crisis talks with the industry next week
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2170001/Farmers-helped-bring-Britain-halt-fuel-strikes-threaten-Olympic-protests-milk-price-cuts.html#ixzz204pJLVqz
Farming- Farmers suffer drop in milk returns to customers
Updated: 05 Jul 2012
First Milk announces 1.7ppl milk price drop
4 July 2012 | By Ben Briggs
FIRST Milk has become the latest company to drop its milk price.
The firm said due to declining returns from customers in the liquid market, it had ‘no option’ but to reduce its liquid and balancing milk prices from August 1.
Its liquid pool price will reduce by 1.7ppl and its balancing pool price will reduce by 0.9ppl.
Despite growing market pressure there is no change to First Milk’s cheese pool price.
First Milk’s chairman Bill Mustoe said: “It is hugely frustrating to see further reductions from the liquid sector, which give us no option but to move our milk prices to reflect the impact these have on our co-op.
“I am under no illusion as to the effect these price reductions will have on our members’ businesses and their confidence in the dairy industry as a whole.
“The strategy for First Milk remains unchanged – we believe the route to a long term sustainable future for farmers is through accessing a broader range of products and markets.
“The price cuts we have seen over the last few days make us more certain than ever of our chosen path. We will continue to move at pace and drive First Milk to another level of breadth and diversification in order to deliver greater returns to our farmers.
“Finally, I firmly believe that the current market situation will result in more farmers choosing to be part of a business that welcomes their input and allows them to shape their own destiny, rather than sitting back and allowing others to dictate it.”
Farming- Not exactly a Potato Famine but some have had their Chips
Updated: 23 Jun 2012
Potato crops under pressure from ongoing erratic weather
22 June 2012 | By Olivia Midgley
ARABLE farmers are bracing themselves for a rough ride this summer as the unpredictable weather takes its toll on crops throughout Britain.
The heavy rain and flooding, coupled with plummeting temperatures over the last three months, has proved a headache for farmers and many have struggled to get crops into the ground.
Potatoes are expected to take the biggest hit, with experts warning of low yields and the risk of disease, while black-grass has also emerged as a serious issue.
The Potato Council’s senior analyst Jim Davies said early crops got off to a good start but there was ‘little movement’ in the later crops which were planted in April and May.
“The crops in the ground have a lot of growing to do if yields aren’t to be too badly affected,” said Mr Davies.
“It varies tremendously throughout the UK and just depends on whereabouts you are and what your land is like.
“The South West guys are lifting their earlies and the crops which were under plastic or fleece are yielding pretty well.
“Those which were not covered are not seeing strong yields and still need some time to bulk.”
But Mr Davies said the conditions were having a positive impact on old supplies as the rain and cool temperatures provided the ideal environment for moving stock.
It is a stark contrast to last year, when planting was early and crops were boosted with warm, dry weather.
But the picture is gloomy in Scotland, where growers are weeks behind schedule.
NFU Scotland potato board chairman Russell Brown said: “Some haven’t even finished planting. This is the latest planting I can remember for a number of years.
“It was too wet to get the tractors into the field and then those which did go into cold and wet conditions have struggled to catch up to where they need to be. Everything’s lagging behind.”
However, experts predicted good news could be on the horizon for growers who swerved the worst of the weather.
Market analysts at Mintec said the forces of supply and demand could ‘end the days of cheap spuds’, providing a cash boost for some farmers.
The mild autumn weather had also created a major headache for arable farmers across country in the form of significantly higher levels of the damaging weed, black-grass.
NFU chief arable adviser Guy Gagen said the weed was threatening to have a ‘massive impact’ on some wheat yields this year and would require ‘robust control’ on next year’s break crop
Farming -Scotland- Aim to increase tenant farms for new entrants
Updated: 12 Jun 2012
Scots parliament approves tenant farming reforms
11 June 2012
A package of reforms to modernise the tenant farming sector in Scotland have been approved by the Scottish Parliament.
The Agricultural Holdings (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill builds on previous reforms and aims to increase availability of agricultural land for let and encourage new and young farmer entrants into farming.
The Bill, passed last Thursday, makes changes to rent review arrangements to ban ‘upward only’ and ‘landlord only’ initiated rent reviews, as well as making it easier for grandchildren to inherit farm tenancies.
Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said the Government was committed to ensuring Scotland had a ‘healthy and vibrant’ tenant farming sector.
That was why, he said, the Government was working to remove barriers to the letting of farm land, increase confidence in the working relationships between landlord and tenants and give the tenant farming sector a greater level of security.
Mr Lochhead said the Tenant Farming Forum had worked with the Government to develop solutions to the issues affecting the industry and had launched its Rent Review Working Group.
He said the legislation passed on Thursday was a key part of the Government’s determination to tackle the issues surrounding the tenant farming sector.
Douglas McAdam, chief executive of the Scottish Land and Estates, said the work of the forum has been instrumental in the successful Parliamentary passage of the Bill:
“The package of measures put forward to Government by the TFF showed what can be achieved by the industry working through its challenges together. Of course there will be disagreements, but it is surely better for the industry to tackle these constructively together.”
He also welcomed the creation of therent review working group, adding its first priority would be to decide whether the current framework for rent reviews was broken and required attention or whether it functioned well.
Tenant Farming Forum
The rent review working group has been set up in a bid to untangle the complicated rent review procedures in Scotland.
The chairman will be former banker Henry Graham and the three other members, who have been appointed on a personal basis and not on any organisational affiliation, are former NFU Scotland president John Ross, Perthshire farmer Ian Duncan Millar and John Mitchell, a partner in law firm Anderson Strathern.
The group is due to report back to the TFF in November, which will consider recommendations and propose actions, including any recommended procedural or legislative changes, which may be required.
The report will also be considered by the Scottish Government.
Farming- Making animals lives better makes good economic sense
Updated: 05 Jun 2012
New animal welfare tool could beef up red Tractor
A NEW animal welfare tool is being launched in a bid to give greater clarity in assessing the welfare of dairy cows.
The standardised system of direct observation of animal wellbeing could eventually be incorporated into the Red Tractor scheme to beef up its animal welfare credentials.
The tool has been developed as part of the AssureWel project, led by the RSPCA, the Soil Association and the University of Bristol,
They say the ‘practical, reliable and scientifically robust’ methods of direct observation , which can be used by farm assurance schemes, farmers, vets and other animal welfare professionals, will help improve the lives of millions of dairy cows across the UK through.
For the past year this new system has been used on Soil Association and RSPCA Freedom Food approved laying hen farms, which make up 97 per cent of the non-caged laying hen industry.
Inspectors from RSPCA’s Freedom Food and the Soil Association will now undergo training in the AssureWel welfare measures for dairy cows.
The assessment will include looking at the mobility, body condition and cleanliness to assess the welfare of dairy animals.
By July 2012 all their dairy inspections will include these new welfare assessments.
The results will be discussed with producers and, if needed, advice will be given on how to improve welfare even further.
AssureWel has been working with Red Tractor, which assures 95 per cent of the milk produced in Great Britain, and, subject to final consultation, are working towards the inclusion of core AssureWel measures into all Red Tractor dairy assessments.
Dr. David Main, animal health and husbandry expert at the University of Bristol’s School of Veterinary Sciences, said the ultimate aim was ‘embed AssureWel’s standardised approach across all the major farm animal species’.
“Working with Red Tractor instantly means we are working with the majority of dairy farmers in the UK which could potentially have a massive impact on dairy cow welfare,” he said.
Mike Madders, Staffordshire dairy farmer and chairman of the Red Tractor Dairy Scheme said: “We still have lots to do but we have made excellent progress in our aim to introduce welfare outcome assessment into Red Tractor dairy thanks to our work with AssureWel.
This project has managed to turn animal welfare science into a worthwhile package of practical measures.”
Anna Fraser, RSPCA scientific officer in the Farm Animals Department, said: “The AssureWel assessment is a quick, simple way of measuring animal well-being.
We know producers on our scheme care passionately about animal welfare and will go the extra mile to make their animals lives even better.”
Dr Alison Bond, animal welfare project officer at the Soil Association, said:”It is clear that industry harmonisation on animal welfare assessment is needed and we believe AssureWel provides the vehicle to help do that.”
Farming - Supermarkets kill competition and rob Farmers of their support
Updated: 01 Jun 2012
8:57am, Thu 31 May 2012
Farmers' Supermarket Struggle
Farmers say relationship with supermarkets is 'one-sided'
The Radical says..There are two issues.
1.Government must discover how so much support given to farmers
ends up in the pockets of the Supermarket bosses.
2.For there to be a market,there must be Buyers as well as Sellers.
Supermarkets kill competition, to the extent that often there is only one buyer.
That is unacceptable.
by David Woodland - last updated Thu 31 May 2012
Business Supermarkets Farmers Farmers who supply supermarkets say the relationship is too one sided and often unfair.
Now the government has promised to set up an adjudicator to sort out arguments but farmers fear it'll be a toothless beast.
Ruth Kimber is on the National Farmers' Union council and she predicts a bit of a struggle with the supermarket lobby.
Farmer Ruth Kimber with our Somerset Correspondent, David Woodland Credit: ITV West Country
Ruth's family have farmed near Wincanton for 300 years. In the last fifty years, she says power has become concentrated in the hands of supermarkets which sell 70% of our food.
She says farmers produce the raw materials but what they sometimes get back is a raw deal and she wants stiff penalties if supermarkets abuse their power.
“I think naming and shaming is certainly one area that is a good thing because nobody likes that in public.
However it is not enough, so you have to hit people in the pocket and the supermarkets, with the amount of profits that they return year on year.
They have enough money to be significantly fined when they are out of order and maybe we should be looking at individuals because it is individuals that call the tune here.
– RUTH KIMBER, FARMER
Ruth wants stiff penalties if supermarkets abuse their power. Credit: ITV West Country
It's tough talk.
Ruth Kimber is talking of fines in the millions.
And when she talks about individuals she means the Managing Directors' of supermarkets.
She's a long way from what the supermarkets want.
They don't want unions or trade associations to be allowed to ask the regulator to investigate.
“Well we're not supporting third parties having the right to bring evidence to the adjudicator for the very straightforward reason.
This is about business to business relationships and therefore only those businesses that have signed the contract between them will have the access to all the information to work out whether a problem has occurred.
– RICHARD OPIE, BRITISH RETAIL CONSORTIUM
Factory producing Cornish Yarg cheese Credit: ITV West Country
Cornish Yarg cheese producer Catherine Mead has never had a problem with a supermarket but she agrees the battleground will be around whether third parties will be allowed to go to the regulator.
“We hear a lot and there is a concern that some of this is anecdotal and there is a lot of debate around the subject of whether or not if third parties can make the claims would you then hear more evidence.
– CATHERINE MEAD DIRECTOR, LYNHER DAIRIES
Supermarkets say they've been a massive success story, driving down prices for us the consumer, but farmers say their enormous purchasing power is allowing them to keep too much of the profits.
Ruth Kimber points to a grower she claims had to get rid of ten acres of cauliflowers after a supermarket decided the vegetables were too big.
It was a disaster that cost the producer tens of thousands of pounds.
The Kimbers sell a lot of produce in their own shop Credit: ITV West Country
“A certain number of them were given away and some were offered on the side of the road but when you've got ten acres of cauliflowers that's a heck of a lot of cauliflowers to find a home for.
– RUTH KIMBER, FARMER
The Kimbers sell a lot of produce in their own shop. Most farmers rely on the supermarkets.
They hope the groceries adjudicator will help them plan their future with more confidence
Farming- The Farmer wants a dog
Updated: 28 May 2012
New homes wanted for working dogs
FARMERS looking for a working dog are being urged to contact Battersea Dogs Home.
The charity said it has received an influx of working breeds in recent months.
This year the Kent based centre at Brands Hatch has already taken in 11 Border Collies, nine Labrador Retrievers, six Springer Spaniels, a Field Spaniel, one Lancashire Heeler, a Bearded Collie and an Anatolian Shepherd.
Nearly all of them were brought in by owners who could no longer care for them, and out of these 30 dogs, 10 are still searching for new homes.
Rehoming and welfare manager Michelle Bevan said: “Many of these dogs are brought in by owners who don’t have enough time to care for them, or find they are incompatible with their families or other pets.”
Mrs Bevan said most of the dogs would enjoy rural homes with experienced owners.
“These are intelligent, energetic dogs and most of them don’t suit urban households,” she added.
“They need people who understand and know how to handle their breed traits.
“We know there are dog-lovers out there who could provide fantastic homes for our dogs.”
If you can offer a home to a Battersea Brands Hatch dog visit www.battersea.org.uk.
Farming- Chinese making Pigs of themselves
Updated: 18 May 2012
China trade deal 'huge opportunity' for UK pig producers
17 May 2012 | By Alistair Driver
THE UK pig industry could benefit to the tune of £100 million over the next two years, following the expected opening up of the lucrative Chinese export market this week.
A UK delegation, led by Farming Minister Jim Paice and including key figures from the pig industry, is currently in China where they are expecting to finalise a trade deal that has been in the making since 2004.
The UK already exports live breeding pigs to China but the bigger prize of gaining access to the pigmeat market has been a ‘tortuous’ process in the face of the strict demands put in place by the Chinese authorities, according to British Pig Executive (BPEX) chairman Stewart Houston.
The deal was finally expected to be signed off on Thursday (May 17) and was to be celebrated with a high profile banquet featuring British pigmeat for Chinese and British Government and industry representatives.
Mr Houston, who was part of the delegation, said a number of British pigmeat processors had the necessary licences in place and were ready to commence trade immediately.
“We wouldn’t be far wrong to expect £30m of exports in the first year and then double that beyond. The plans are in place and the pigmeat is available,” Mr Houston said.
“We hope this is the start of a bigger engagement with wider export potential. Trade with China in years to come is going to be one of the most important facets of all agricultural production in the UK.”
The Chinese pigmeat market is particularly valuable to the UK as the biggest demand is for cuts that are harder to sell in conventional markets, including the so-called ‘fifth quarter’ and the likes of feet, stomach and diaphragm. Finding a major outlet for these cuts will significantly add value to the British pig carcase.
China, home to a fifth of the world’s population and the fastest growing major world economy, consumes a quarter of the world’s meat, with pork accounting for nearly three-quarters of its meat consumption.
It has been forced to look to world markets for its pigmeat and other staple foods to keep pace with demand and, with pig consuming vast quantities of Chinese-grown cereals and soybean, control food prices.
Speaking ahead of the visit, Mr Paice said the deal, if successfully concluded, would present ‘huge opportunities’ for British pig producers.
He will also promote the export of high quality breeding pigs to China. While this is worth millions to the UK economy each year ‘the skills and technologies we sell to support breeding programmes has the potential to be even more lucrative’, he said.
Mr Paice said the trip was part of a much wider drive to open up Chinese markets for a range of British food products, as prioritised in Defra’s food export plan, published in February.
He was looking to build relationships with key retailers and importers to ‘smooth the path for other British producers looking to make their mark on China’ and was also due to meet Chinese officials in Beijing to seek out further export opportunities.
“The growing affluence of China creates huge market opportunities for the whole of the UK and I want to help ensure food plays its full role in this,” Mr Paice said.
“China wants what Britain has to offer - outstanding food and drink, high quality animals for breeding and farming skills and expertise that are second to none.”
Food and Drink Federation communications director Terry Jones said China presented a ‘big market and opportunity’ across the food UK sector, from staple meat and dairy products to niche and established brands.
Sales to China have increased by 55 per cent in each of the past two years and China is now in the ‘top 20’ UK export destinations, he said.
“It is our fastest growing market but from a low base.
We need to deliver on the export plan but there is still a long way to go,” he said
Farming - Britain complies with Battery Cage Ban as Eggs price increase - But NOT Europe
Updated: 15 May 2012
Battery cage ban compliance expected by end of year
14 May 2012 | By Alistair Driver
ALL member states will be compliant with the EU battery cage ban by the end of this year, according discussions in Brussels this week.
Recent figures from the European Commission indicated that approximately 50 million hens – one on seven – were still being kept in battery cages, despite the ban, which came into force at the start of this year.
The Commission had told 12 non-compliant member states - Belgium, Bulgaria, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland and Portugal – they needed to ‘make extra efforts’ to avoid a final warning, before being referred to court.
Another reason to re-negotiate the EU treaty! Europe are a Law unto themselves-Radical
But at a meeting of the European Agriculture Committee this week, Commissioner John Dalli announced that all member states had promised that they would be compliant with the ban on battery cages by the end of this year, according Scottish MEP George Lyon.
Mr Lyon welcomed the promises made by member states but said it was ‘still an outrage that many countries have waited to the last moment to get their act together’.
“That is another year that UK egg producers have had to compete with one hand tied behind their back,” he said.
Mr Dalli also said that 16 Member States now expected to be compliant with the partial sow stall ban by the time it comes into force at the start of next year.
Mr Lyon said the poor levels of compliance with the battery cage ban showed ‘we need to redouble our efforts to force the pace with countries that are dragging their feet on complying with the ban on sow stalls and avoid this mess happening again’.
“Pressure must be brought to bear through tough action in the courts by the Commission against those who are going to miss the deadline. Action also needs to be taken by the major retailers in the market place,” he said.
Mr Lyon said the EU Commissioner had given his backing to plans for a major European retailer summit in Brussels, which the MEP sees as an opportunity to ‘put serious pressure on them to give a public pledge to sell only legally produced pork products once the ban comes into force’.
“The combined threat of legal and market sanctions will focus minds in those countries that are dragging their feet on these important animal welfare issues and hopefully speed up the process of compliance,” Mr Lyon said.
Farming- Agricultural Show Dates 2012-
Updated: 25 Apr 2012
UK AGRICULTURAL SHOW DATES
North Somerset Show
11th – 12th May
12th – 13th May
Newark & Nottinghamshire County Show
16th – 18th May
17th - 19th May
Devon County Show
St Clears Show
Shropshire County Show
30th May - 2nd June
Royal Bath & West Show
1st – 2nd June
2nd – 3rd June
Hertfordshire County Show
Surrey County Show
Great Harwood Show
Duncombe Park Country Fair
Northumberland County Show
6th– 7th June
Staffordshire County Show
7th– 8th June
7th - 9th June
South of England Show
7th - 9th June
Royal Cornwall Show
8th - 9th June
Caerwys Agricultural Show
15th - 17th June
Three Counties Show
North Yorkshire County Show
19th - 20th June
Cheshire County Show
20th - 21st June
21st - 24th June
Royal Highland Show
Derbyshire County Show
27th - 28thJune
Royal Norfolk Show
30th June - 1st July
6th - 8th July
East of England Show
Goosnagh & Longridge Show
10th - 12th July
Great Yorkshire Show
13th - 15th July
Kent County Show
Point Agricultural Show
Stithians Agricultural Show
23rd – 26th July
Royal Welsh Show
24th - 26th July
New Forest & Hampshire Show
Nantwich and South Cheshire Show
Mid Devon Show
28th - 29th July
Totness & District Show
North Devon Show
Mid Argyll Show
11th - 12th August
14th- 15th August
14th - 16th August
Pembrokeshire County Show
Gillingham & Shaftesbury Show
Denbigh & Flint Show
18th & 19th August
North Wales Country Fair
Mid Somerset Show
Mirfield Family Agricultural Show
Cotswold Hunt and Farmers Show
Vale of Glamorgan Show
Llangynidr Agricultural Show
26th - 27th August
1st - 2nd September
Dorset County Show
Hodder Valley Show
The Henley Show
Hurworth Country Fair
15th - 16th September
Berkshire Country Show
Flintham & District Show
Farming- TB in Cattle is a serious issue but "Heroic" Mr Badger has clouded the issue.
Updated: 24 Apr 2012
'Heroic' Mr Badger has clouded TB debate, research concludes
23 April 2012 | By Alistair Driver
DEEP-ROOTED cultural attitudes towards badgers, reinforced through literary works like ‘The Wind in the Willows’, have clouded the debate on controlling bovine TB (bTB), according to new research.
Dr Angela Cassidy, of the Rural Economy and Land Use Programme, has examined cultural attitudes towards badgers throughout history.
She has found a range of literary depictions dating back over 1,000 years, extolling the ‘good badger’ on one extreme and vilfying the ‘bad badger’ on the other.
These representations have played a big part in shaping the current ‘violent’ and ‘polarised’ debate on whether badgers should be culled to control bTB in cattle, according to Dr Cassidy.
Dr Cassidy’s research dates back to the ‘dignified depictions’ of badgers in an Anglo Saxon poetic riddle from the 11th century, which describes the animal as a ‘noble creature defending its family against attack’.
More recent ‘heroic appearances’ in children’s literature are common, with the best known being Kenneth Grahame’s Mr Badger in the children’s novel ‘The Wind in the Willows’.
“We are familiar with the idea of badgers displaying characteristics that we like to think of as both human and laudable, such as strength, bravery and loyalty, while also being mysterious, nocturnal creatures that are symbolic of the natural world and British countryside,” Dr Cassidy concluded.
She noted, however, that the ‘bad badger’ is also in evidence throughout history and in literature.
In the 16th century badgers were legally designated as vermin, and badger baiting was considered a normal pastime until it was outlawed in 1835. Tommy Brock in Beatrix Potter’s ‘The Tale of Mr Tod’ is depicted as an ‘unpleasant, sly, dirty creature who kidnaps a nest of baby rabbits’, she said.
“The ‘bad badger’ is in constant conflict with human beings, and current bTB debates often include references to unwelcome behaviours such as crop-raiding, digging and hunting other animals,” Dr Cassidy said.
Dr Cassidy said these often deep rooted, feelings about ‘Old Brock’ are ‘still colouring’ the bTB debate and influence how it is covered in the media. The way the debate has been framed has been ‘unhelpful and has made it more difficult for policymakers to find a way forward’, she said.
“From the early 20th century depictions of the ‘good badger’ became dominant, but more recently the verminous and diseased ‘bad badger’ has resurfaced. It is noticeable how the two sides have harnessed the language of war to bolster their arguments, with quite violent rhetoric being used in an increasingly polarised public debate,” she said.
“Perhaps if we could recognise that the current bTB debate is actually partly about human relationships with badgers, and that both the ‘good’ and ‘bad versions of the badger are exaggerated, this could help move policymaking forwards,” she said.
She added that the concentration on badgers, particularly in the media, has also meant there has been less room for discussion of other aspects of bTB, such as TB testing or cattle management.
· The research is published in Sociologia Ruralis volume 52, Issue 2, 192-214 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-9523.2012.00562.x/abstract
· The Rural Economy and Land Use Programme is an interdisciplinary collaboration between the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), with additional funding provided by the Scottish Government and Defra. See www.relu.ac.uk
Farming -Food Production- Milk and Meat, American style
Updated: 23 Apr 2012
35,000 head of cattle
This is great American ingenuity.
This is very interesting even if you didn't grow up on a farm! Even if
you did grow up on a farm, I'm sure it wasn't like this one!! Really cool.....
On our travels throughout the heartland we've visited small farms, big farms, and really big farms.
But there are some that, in size anyway, simply defy classification.
Farming - 2012 Student of the Year wins International Placement for a Year
Updated: 14 Apr 2012
Agricultural Student of the Year 2011-2012 is James Miller
JAMES Miller has been named Farmers Guardian’s Agricultural Student of the Year 2011-2012.
The 20-year-old from Hatherleigh, West Devon, has been awarded a 12-month international work placement, which will see him travel to either Australia or Canada to pursue his career in agriculture.
James, a second-year student at the Royal Agricultural College (RAC) in Cirencester, is studying agriculture and is about to embark on a four-month work placement at Kenniford Farm, Exeter.
Joining James in the final were fellow RAC student Tom Coate, Laura Burnett from Aberdeen, who attends Newcastle University and Harper Adams student Joseph Williams from Shropshire.
Laura was named runner-up in the competition.
Commenting on his win, James said: “I was very shocked to win this competition, especially with the high quality of finalists. I was pleased with getting shortlisted, let alone getting into the final and winning.
It has changed my career prospects and improved my future in the industry.
“To win such an amazing prize is incredible and I am really touched and pleased to become the Farmers Guardian Agricultural Student of the Year.”
The judging panel consisted of FG features editor Danusia Osiowy; Clare Wass, operations manager at AgriVenture and Stephen Watkins, a mixed farmer from Worcestershire who is an NFU board member and chairman of the Nuffield Farming Scholarship Trust.
Danusia said: “James has grappled with various challenges to date and turned them into positive experiences.
I have no doubt the opportunity to undertake an international work placement will be crucial in the next chapter of his career.”
Farming- New Generation Farmers need better Education and an Advisory Service
Updated: 14 Apr 2012
Education must aid next generation of farmers
EDUCATION and scientific knowledge must be improved and shared if the next generation is to succeed in agriculture.
David Henley, principal of Bicton College which hosted the Women’s Food and Farming (WFU) conference yesterday (Thursday, April 12), said it was this generation’s duty to inspire young people and give them the skills they need to go on to a successful career.
“It is absolutely critical we give young people adequate skills to enter the industry competitively and safely,” said Mr Henley.
“We expose students to the real commercial aspect of running a farm and if that means getting up at 5am and milking 200 cows then so be it.”
He said the college put an emphasis on new technology and agricultural processes in order to produce the brightest young farmers.
He added: “While recruitment in agricultural colleges has been going up in recent years, it is still not considered relevant and important to young people in schools.
“We all need to do a better job to tell them about the exciting and rewarding careers that do exist in agriculture.
“We also need to regain the skills we have lost over the years.”
LEAF chief executive Caroline Drummond said today’s farmers were up against a number of pressures including animal health and welfare, environment issues and pressure from retailers.
“Farmers nowadays have to deal with changing demands throughout the week,” she said.
“Requirements from the retailer can change half way through an order.”
Mrs Drummond said the ‘new consumer’ lead by convenience and low price, was adding to that pressure and retailers had to meet their demands, leading to a knock on effect on producers.
Farming-UK Farm Watch to tackle increased Rural Crime
Updated: 10 Apr 2012
Farmwatch scheme is launched to tackle rural crime
A FARMWATCH scheme, aimed at reducing the level of rural crime in Fermanagh, has been welcomed by Irish Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill.
The scheme has a number of strands, including signage, sheep retina scanning, forensically marking machinery, assets recorded on a police database, a text service alerting police of suspicious activity, and police visits to farmers to discuss farm security.
In addition it is planned to create a forum whereby farmers can be trained in various crime prevention strategies and provide feedback to local police.
Speaking at the launch of the scheme at the Enniskillen Campus of the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise, Ms O’Neill said: “The impact of rural crime on farming families goes far beyond the loss of property.
“Rural crime can make isolated farming communities feel even more isolated as they padlock doors and gates, hide away farm machinery and look at strangers with an eye of suspicion.”
She said while the technology would give access to some very useful tools, the most important part of Farmwatch was that it would provide farmers with an opportunity to work together and, with the support of the police, tackle the issue.
Farming- Walkers- "Keep dogs under control this Easter Weekend"
Updated: 07 Apr 2012
Be responsible this Easter weekend, dog walkers urged
FARMING and rural organisations are calling for people with dogs to take extra care when walking near livestock this Easter weekend.
Snowdonia National Park, the NFU and Ramblers have all hammered home the message for dog owners to be responsible for their dogs, particularly during the lambing season.
Rhys Owen, head of conservation and agriculture for the park authority, said: “Unfortunately, incidences featuring dogs chasing animals are heard more often today, and this can cause serious long term damage to sheep and lambs, and in some cases, can be fatal.
“This may in turn result in large financial losses to the farmer.
“Usually we ask owners to keep their dogs under control, but this time, as this period during the farmer’s year is extremely important, we ask dog owners to keep their pets on a leash to minimize the risk of disturbing the livestock.
“By law, between March 1 and July 31, you must keep your dog on a leash when on open or common land, and throughout the year you should keep you dog on a leash when close to farm animals.
“We also ask owners to make sure that their dogs cannot escape at other times either, through the back door, or the garden gate for example.”
It is the park authority’s first appeal of the year to dog owners, and others will be made during the year which will also coincide with a new series of posters produced by the authority encouraging owners to put their dogs on a leash, not to chase wildlife, and remember to take their dogs’ excrement home with them.
NFU livestock board chairman Charles Sercombe said: “The countryside is a fantastic place to walk in. However, we must remember it is a working environment where animals graze. So it’s important to take care and be mindful of your surroundings so you can fully enjoy the experience.
“In 2009 we joined forces with the Ramblers to encourage walkers to keep dogs on leads when walking in fields with livestock.
“Farmers also have a responsibility as to the safety of the animals in their fields, and they take that responsibility seriously.
“To minimise risks to animals and walkers, simple things like not walking between a cow and its calf, keeping dogs on a lead and being aware of your surroundings are essential best practice.
“We also encourage walkers to be aware of the risk unleashed dogs pose to sheep and lambs as they can chase and, in certain circumstances, attack and kill.
“These simple precautions all go a long way to ensuring people can continue enjoying the countryside in safety.”
Benedict Southworth, Ramblers chief executive said: “We’re encouraging as many people as possible to get out into the countryside, but it is important to remember that it is working land where animals roam in close proximity to walkers, one of the reasons it is such a pleasure to walk in.”
Farmers Guardian ran an exclusive investigation into sheep worrying by dogs which showed there had been 700 dogs attacks on livestock in 2011.
Farming- History - The Deadliest Industry
Updated: 07 Apr 2012
Research shows farming was deadliest industry - in 16th Century!
Agriculture is still one of the deadliest industries in the UK in modern times, but research suggests it was just as dangerous in the 16th Century.
Dr Steven Gunn of the History Faculty is leading a project to sift through 9,000 sixteenth-century coroners’ reports from all over England held in the National Archives and has found that most fatal accidents occurred between April and September.
He said: “Most people are enjoying the recent warmer weather but this wasn’t always good news in Tudor England, in which nearly three-quarters of all fatal accidents in 1558-60 occurred between April and September when farming work was at its height.
“Deaths happened in various and unexpected ways – some were straightforward accidents with scythes or cart crashes, but other unfortunate people are recorded as mangling themselves in the machinery of windmills or watermills, turning carts on top of themselves when loading them with barley, falling out of trees when gathering fruit and nuts and even falling asleep by piles of hay that collapsed and suffocated them.
“The autumn was a bad time for pig-famers, though, as October was the prime month for falling out of oak trees when collecting acorns to fatten up swine for slaughter.”
Workers at that time also faced the dangers of potential falls from trees while destroying crows’ nests and being trampled by angry pigs.
Dr Gunn added: “We have found fatalities caused not only by horses and cattle but also by sheep and pigs. One five-year-old boy from Huggate in Yorkshire was attacked by the pigs he was herding.
“But horses were the most dangerous animals, causing 93 per cent of livestock injuries by throwing their riders, kicking people, dragging them into water or running away with carts.”
Fatal accidents in the outdoors became such a problem that handbooks were even made to warn people of unexpected dangers. Dr Gunn explained:
He added: “Dealing with pests was just as risky.
Tudor farming handbooks advised caution when climbing trees to kill crows in their nests.
It sounds like health and safety gone mad, but given that we have found several men who fell to their deaths doing just this, perhaps it was necessary!”
Farming - 100 Council farms sold
Updated: 07 Apr 2012
Action needed as more than 1,000 council farms sold off
IN the last 11 years councils in England and Wales have sold off more than 1,000 farms, investigations by Farmers Guardian have revealed.
Figures obtained by FG show councils have been selling off holdings over the past decade, rather than letting them to new tenants.
There were 3,777 council-owned farms in England and Wales in 2000, a figure which declined to 2,431 in 2011.
Farming leaders blasted the move, which they said scuppered opportunities for new entrants.
County council farms traditionally provided a way into farming for those who have not inherited land or could not afford to buy their own.
But against a backdrop of Government cuts and rising costs, councils have resorted to selling off their assets in a bid to raise cash.
Experts said this ‘short sighted’ approach was breaking the farming ladder, with new farmers seeing the door to the industry ‘slammed in their face’.
Chief executive of the Tenant Farmers Association George Dunn said: “What is clear is if there were ever a farming ladder, the ladder is now broken.
“Traditionally there were opportunities for farmers to get in through the council farms.
“But making the jump from small holdings to large holdings is hard and now there are not the intermediary holdings to move to.”
He said the farms were needed to provide a viable entry point and ongoing development for those seeking a career in agriculture, but demand from developers had seen councils look for a ‘quick fix’.
“They are plugging a hole in an unsustainable way,” said Mr Dunn.
“We need to be looking at our farms as strategic assets and harvesting profitable land over time, rather than rushing to sell off the family silver.”
Between 2000 and 2011, 78 per cent of councils FG contacted had sold farms. Norfolk offloaded the most with 123, Lincolnshire and North Yorkshire both sold 92 and Shropshire sold 62.
A Norfolk County Council spokesman said: “Different administrations have run the council farms estate differently but this administration is committed to keeping the estate as it is.”
A spokesman for North Yorkshire Country Council said the authority had a long-standing policy of disposing of its farms when tenancies ended and the money was ploughed back into council services.
There was no change in the number of farms owned by Bournemouth, Milton Keynes, Peterborough and South Gloucestershire. And Hampshire and Brighton actually purchased additional units. Scotland does not have a council farm network.
A spokesman for Hampshire County Council added: “It’s vital we continue to invest in the future of our rural economy so farming continues to be a modern, viable and sustainable business that supports the local economy.”
Interactive map: Farm across England’s counties
Farming - Snow decimates lambing on the hills
Updated: 06 Apr 2012
Hundreds of lambs lost as snow returns
“The severe weather came in so quickly and the snow was so deep in the drifts that farmers didn’t stand a chance,” said NFU North East spokeswoman Rachel Gilbanks.
“The severe weather was quite localised but it appears to have been particularly bad around Saddleworth and Huddersfield, where farmers had to dig their sheep out of deep drifts only to find their lambs were dead.
“One farmer I spoke to also had the added problem of thick fog, with visibility down to just 10 feet as he was trying to locate his lambs.”
North York Moors spokeswoman Rachel McIntosh said everyone knew snow was forecast, but the speed and depth at which it fell, coupled with the gale force winds causing drifts and the chill factor, caught people by surprise.
David Hall, who runs 400 Lleyns and Mules between 1,200 and 1,400ft on the South Pennines near Saddleworth, said he was out in a ‘severe blizzard’ at 5am on Wednesday morning trying to find his lambs.
“It was like mid-winter.
“We are only five or six days into lambing, so I suppose we were lucky in that we only lost three lambs, though we had others suffering from hypothermia, but they are now back with their mothers after spending time in the warming box.
“We managed to get all our sheep and lambs inside, but they can’t go out again for a while because all the grass is covered by snow.”
Hans Porksen, NFU North East livestock chairman, who leases from the National Trust at Cambo, near Morpeth, said they had been ‘very fortunate’ because they lamb indoors and did not lose any lambs.
“We had other older lambs outside but they survived despite the tremendously bad weather.
“Quite a few of our neighbours lost a lot of lambs, one of them losing 17 out of 54. It was the unbelievably cold wind which did the damage and it was no wonder most lambs born that night failed to survive.”
Farming - (And Growers)- Water is starting to matter
Updated: 02 Apr 2012
Why water is starting to matter
30 March 2012 | By Emma Penny
FOR most people, a week of dry, sunny weather lifts their spirits.
But for many farmers, it is getting to the stage where some prolonged rain - in the right place, and at the right time - is all they are wishing for.
The drought situation is becoming more serious by the day, with reservoirs at an all-time low and water restrictions spreading. And with many producers currently adjusting planting plans to match the water they have available, it is clear water shortages are now having a major effect.
Most of us reading about the effects of drought will have some expectation of nature re-balancing things and for the dry spell to be broken by a monsoon season.
But what if that doesn’t happen?
Are the south and east of England, and pockets elsewhere, destined to be this short of water in the long-term?
If this is the case, it will require a major rethink.
But this is something a few academics have been warning about for several years on a global scale.
They argue water will become one of the most precious commodities - and all of us will have to value it much more.
It is certainly heading that way in the farming sector.
But there is a huge challenge in educating the public and other businesses that water won’t always be so freely available.
A Government education campaign might be perceived as more nanny state intervention, but the value of water only becomes apparent when you don’t have enough.
For the public, that value will only become clear when it starts affecting their lives and, more importantly, their pockets through higher produce prices.
That may come sooner than they realise, or would like, if the dry weather continues without a break
Drought spreads north after scorching week
30 March 2012
FARMERS up and down the UK were left praying for rain this week as drought conditions spread to the north of England.
Swathes of East and South Yorkshire from Chesterfield up to Scarborough are now officially in drought, environment chiefs warned, with areas around Doncaster, Hull and Driffield some of the worst hit.
The regions join the South East and eastern England, where hosepipe bans will come into force next week (April 5) in a bid to save water.
But this week temperatures soared all over the UK and the north of England and Scotland basked in unseasonably warm weather.
The lack of rain combined with tinder box conditions also saw blazes rage in several parts of the countryside.
Large fires were reported across the south-east, and areas of North Yorkshire, Lancashire and Wales.
Scotland broke its March maximum temperature twice in two days, as the mercury hit 22.9C (73.22) on Monday and 23.4C (74.12) in the village of Aboyne, Aberdeenshire, on Tuesday.
Some areas of Yorkshire have seen the driest 12 months since 1910, and with river levels continuing to fall, the Environment Agency (EA) appealed to farmers that take water from rivers to look for ways to use water wisely, and share the resources that are available.
Fraser Hugill, who runs a 120 hectare (300 acre) beef and arable farm in Stokesley, North Yorkshire, said: “We’re certainly praying for a bit of rain at the moment.
“We haven’t had any significant rainfall since the end of February.
“Our fertiliser has gone on the field so it is just sat there at the moment.
It’s not washing in so crops aren’t taking it up.”
Mr Hugill, who grows wheat, barley and spring beans, said the next few months would be ‘critical’ for his crops.
“We can manage the situation at the moment because in Yorkshire we are used to working with very different and changeable conditions,” he said.
“There is moisture deep down for crops to get established, but if the dry weather continues over the next two to three months we could have problems because they are the key growth stages.”
Charles Platts, who farms beef and sheep with some cereals on the South Yorkshire border, echoed Mr Hugill’s concerns.
“We have been having problems since last year’s dry summer,” he said.
“Our forage stocks were low so through the winter - which was also very dry - we had to buy in a lot of extra feed.
All this has had big financial implications.”
But on the upside, Mr Platts said the balmy weather had come in good time for lambing season.
Mr Platts added: “The lambs absolutely love it. It’s been fantastic for them.”
What can farmers do to mitigate drought?
• Irrigate in the evenings or at night (provided it is safe to do so) and check for leaks
• Do not irrigate if it is windy
• Use low trajectory sprays to reduce evaporation
• Ensure irrigation is uniform, with appropriate rates and droplet size