Government sold British farming down the river

Writers Posted 22/06/20
Is life returning to some sort of normality?

As farmers we seem to be forever moaning about the weather. When we have rain it needs to be sunny and when we have sun it needs to be raining. Fortunately this year has been an excellent year for the silaging process (so far!). The yields have been down on last year but thankfully we live in the South East and not up north, where I believe their yields are vastly reduced and their crops are in desperate need of a drink. Having looked at our arable crops this week, straw will be in short supply going forward. Second quality straw has been selling for around £55/ton and first quality is even more. I would think the crops are around seven to 10 days further on than usual.

Is life returning to some sort of normality? We are back to the politicians speaking utter rubbish most of the time and the infighting is back with a vengeance. I try to avoid the news if at all possible.

Government plans have taken a U-turn on opening all schools in July; they hope they will restart in September, but only time will tell. I, for one, will be sending my children back to school when the politicians go back to Parliament. Travel companies have had an upsurge in bookings for holidays to the Mediterranean. Clearly the general public are not reading the same articles that I am regarding travel.

Lockdown continues, albeit in a different format. Shops are allowed to reopen with the relevant ‘social distancing’ guidelines and we are all acclimatising to the ‘new norm’. Back to the good old tradition of queuing in a line. I find it easier to pop to the shops approximately 10 minutes before closing as we never seem to queue. The children are still home-schooling and farm life continues. The sheep have been shorn and seem to be very grateful to have their jackets off.

While not perfect, I think the Government has managed Covid-19 with amazing strength and resilience, but unfortunately as Covid-19 was in full swing the government managed to slip in the huge issue of selling British farming down the river. Ministers refused to accept the principle of a key amendment to the Agriculture Bill. Neil Parrish MP had asked that the UK should insist on the same welfare and food standards/safety rules for imports as it imposes for its own farmers and factories. It would have put into law what former DEFRA secretary Michael Gove had promised, that Britain would lead the world in animal welfare and food safety. Instead we are now going into trade negotiations having told the rest of the world that we won’t insist on proper agricultural standards or environmental rules.

This means that British farmers may well be expected to produce food to a higher standard than other countries at the same price. We could be about to open the floodgates to a whole raft of food that would be illegal to produce in the UK. What a way to repay farmers; by importing lower-standard goods that potentially steal market share.

Despite their claims, in the USA the farming sector is heavily subsidised, not in the form of payments like us, but often in the form of rescue packages. Importing heavily subsidised food at a time when our government is abolishing subsidies here would mean sending food to Britain at an artificially low price to undercut our farmers and food manufacturers. The USA also has much lower welfare standards than we have to adhere to.

The good news announced this week is that the Government will impose a tax on substandard food being imported into the country.

I watched the news with disgust regarding the rioting in various cities around the country, protesting about the treatment of George Floyd. While I am very supportive of peaceful protest, I cannot condone the violence, looting and destruction of people’s possessions and public property. We have all strived so hard throughout these weeks in an attempt to eradicate coronavirus, and two or three days could have destroyed everybody’s hard work.

Ted would appear to be rather partial to a few videos on YouTube of “cattle loading”. We’ve all sat down to watch them with him and we’ve all found them fascinating. I know they have the country and the open road and the difference in the way they transport their animals is interesting; a journey of 10 to 17 hours doesn’t seem to faze them much. Who knew that Saturday night television could be revamped in such a way in our household? It was lovely to social distance with family in the garden recently. Three months seemed like an age not to see our family, especially when you are only three.

Sadly, at the end of June we said farewell to a valued member of staff who retires from the team after 49 years’ service. Quite an achievement, and in today’s work environment this situation must be rare.


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