From the airtime and sympathy given over to badgers by Farming Today during the recent culls, the BBC continue as the main cheerleader for the anti cull brigade.
They are so obsessed in their own urban views as to make a fair and reasonable public discussion impossible. They seem unwilling to introduce anyone in favour but then, if they do, they won’t let them answer free of interruption.
As I described last month there was a programme in late summer – a completely unbalanced presentation – which devoted some five minutes to views of the corporation’s favourite extremists – including a convicted criminal – having given just ten seconds to the fact that, in 2014, TB had cost the lives of some 33,000 cattle, valued at more than £100 million, as opposed to roughly 2,500 badgers killed in the same period. Perhaps lies broadcast on the BBC are acceptable?
Talking about the irrational, and doubtless involving pretty well the same collection of people, there has been much talk recently of reintroducing wild species. With rewilding of creatures long gone from our countryside, the plan is to bring species back into the UK regardless of their compatibility with our existing wildlife, working environment or human activities. Most of it is being encouraged by dreamers who have their big visions but little idea of the realities of such conflicts, as would inevitably be caused by these creatures in the twenty first century.
There have already been a couple of such introductions, firstly with the sea eagle or ern, reestablished in the north, causing quite considerable and increasing losses to sheep farmers who, like all livestock farmers, have a difficult enough time without irresponsible cranks making matters worse.
Then the beaver, now getting a foothold in parts of the north and west. Such is the effect of their dam building habits that they are already starting to degrade further much of what the Environment Agency (EA)themselves have degraded by neglect for years. Unfortunately the beavers are not working constructively. But they can work and working to orders could certainly do much more to improve rivers and streams than the EA have done in 20 years.
Now these rewilders are even talking of bringing back lynx and wolves. But maybe sanity will prevail – although having some limited experience of these folk I’m not holding my breath.
Let me tell you a story. Some years ago, when he was an earnest, hairy, bespectacled young journalist, starting off on his road to spreading his somewhat distorted gospel on rural matters, I had occasion to meet with the fellow who today appears to be their main mouthpiece. A certain George Mombiot or GM. Known in recent times, I believe, as the “dreaded moonbat.”
I had been approached by the BBC to give them access for a programme in a series called “Leviathan.” I agreed and a week later the front man, the said GM, turns up at the farmhouse. He outlined his plans for 30 minutes or so, before we drove up to the dairy to film the cows in the days before robots. His crew did a lot of filming, recording our conversations before time ran short and I bade him goodbye, collecting the agreed, rather reluctantly given, fee. Then, under the watchful eye of my herdsman they carried on filming.
As it was relayed to me later, GM then went about unloading his crew’s van and setting up two rows of distorting, hall of mirrors type reflectors in the meadow by the dairy, through which he and his film crew started trying to coax the cows so they could film the animals reflections as they passed through. These expensive looking mirrors, set on fairly fragile legs, caused some of the more inquisitive animals considerable interest. Unsurprisingly they promptly began toppling them. Several got smashed and the whole idea was quickly aborted, the crew packed what was left in the van, broken glass and all, retreating to the safety of London.
The idea had apparently been to film the cows and then use their distorted images to show viewers conclusive evidence of how we farmers were breeding our dairy animals to suit our commercial interests, with no thought of their wellbeing. A naïve misrepresentation which the said GM – now reportedly the head honcho of the Guardian newspaper’s regular environmental crusades – brings to many matters he visits.
Later, when the “Leviathan” programme was aired, my 30 minutes of filmed discussion was cut to around 20 seconds. Just in answer to one point, I had replied something along the lines of: “We dairy farmers have to try to make a profit, however small, just to stay in business.” This translated, cut, turns into: “We have to make a profit”. Profit is, after all, something every business needs just to survive. Like others of his ilk in the BBC rural department, they too often distort reality to fit their own interpretation, as they endeavour to bring livestock farming into disrepute.
So we always remember that incident when George appears on our TV screen these days – at least we got £50 from him, for my time. Now whenever he comes up with another loopy idea such as lynx, wolves or perhaps lions in the Savernake Forest, or crocs in the Thames, we just reach for the channel changer. George is a dangerous chap. Maybe he’s an ideal candidate for shadow environment minister under Mr Corbyn. Now there’s a thought?
Just a few words about maize. It all harvested in good conditions but was too much for the animals, so I sold some 650 tonnes into an aerobic digester. That’s probably more profitable but I would far rather it was being fed to cattle. Unfortunately this is an example of how farming has changed. What was left was all snapped up by around 700 to 800 hungry Canada geese.