This file is an amalgam of emails from farmers and ex-farmers,
beginning with an observation from Jane at farmtalking.com
Some lambs are leaving here in the Borders tomorrow, direct to slaughter. Today's price is £1.40 per. kilo (approx 60p per.lb) 'Dead weight'. .. this represents a loss to the farmer of about £5 - £6 per lamb.
The delicious small lamb chop I had for supper last night, cost me £1.75!
Doesn't seem very fair does it?
It is more than not "very fair" - it is exploitation by the few abattoirs, meat packers and supermarkets.
Thousands of isolated farmers have to sell direct to 5 supermarkets. At least the old way of marketing through a livestock market meant the buyers had to bid for what they wanted. I now can't think that many livestock markets will exist after this. This is why British livestock farming is about to end. You would have thought that prices would have gone up bearing in mind the shortage of British meat and milk. Farmers CANNOT produce at a loss much longer!
I think that the future for British Agriculture, particularly the smaller farms, does lie in having more control over the marketing of their produce, either to local markets, or in grouping together to supply catering outlets in the towns and cities directly. Yes - that could help some smaller UK farmers - but they'd have to develop the habit of working far more co-operatively than they have in the past.
We need to modify the nitty gritty. Other countries survive with vaccination; we should eat more of our own farm produce, export less, and import even less. The balance is all wrongand it's really stupid having cattle wagons loaded to the hilt with live animals travelling hundreds of miles because of some stupid damn EU law saying our previous abattoirs were not up to scratch.
When I came to live in E.Sussex the farm had its own slaughter house and the butcher was next door. All in the one local village - perfect. The animals were looked after superbly and had no stress in their life at all. Because of this bloody EU machine trying to rule every bit of our existence, look at the bloody mess we find ourselves in. We need to tell them to bugger off - we can look after ourselves fine. It's not my voice that has that power but the farmers and their communities. Lions led by donkeys...and they have had enough of it, so have I.
We do not need subsidies provided we have the minimum of government (and European) interference.We have to promote local and home-produced food and if the supermarkets want to compete with us using cheap imports, then we have to sell our produce on quality. We do not need subsidies provided we have the minimum of government (and European) interference.
One cannot ignore the fact that the vast bulk of UK foodstuffs are sold via a very few large retailers. It would appear that the vast majority of consumers are willing to pay extra for quality - and there is still a section of the population that genuinely could not afford to pay for it.
Farmers, however, only have themselves to blame for not forming large farmer owned meat and milk selling businesses. The boot would be on the other foot if there were only three or four places for a supermarket to buy British produce from. There are millions of pounds of EU money available for marketing initiatives but farmers can't seem to recognise what needs to be done.
Even today I was told there are dairy farmers wanting to leave their co-ops and sell their milk direct to Dairy Crest!! The Govt has dismantled our marketing system and has no intention of assisting farmers replace it with anything else because it might upset the supermarkets.
Subsidies resulted in all those rogue sheep farmers moving sheep from farm to farm to claim for each of them over and over again.....
Vast numbers of sheep movements resulted in rapid spread of the virus. ..
email 28 June - ...about 30% of british lamb is exported, mainly the 'light ' lambs from hill farms, there will be no market for these lambs now and when they are ready in the autumn this surplus is bound to drive the price down for everyone. The NFU's solution is to persuade the gov't to purchase and destroy the lambs. But what else would one expect from them?
"it would have been a cheaper solution to buy the National flock and put a lamb free of charge into every family deep freeze in Britain"
Most of UK agriculture is and always will be uncompetitive with regard to world markets. We are not and never will be a significant player in the world market for commodity agricultural products. Any future for UK agriculture has to lie elsewhere than commodity production for export.
It has been the European practice of switching subsidies from the end market to the input side - eg headage payment for ewes - which has caused gross over-production. Subsidies have also distorted the market by allowing hill farmers to pay ridiculous prices for lowland grass keep in order to obtain subsidy on the maximum number of animals. People and businesses will always exploit the loopholes in any system...
....attempts to manipulate the agricultural economy - for good or ill - have generally failed to deliver the effects intended and exposed loopholes never considered by the planners and legislators. The short-termism of political thinking - inherent in representative democratic systems - and the long term 'nature/character' of agriculture do not make easy bedfellows.
Historically there has been a social reason for keeping sheep farmers on the hills, and it is also probably more economical than moving them into a council house, paying them the dole and allowing the land to revert to forest, and I think this is still valid, provided the system can be protected from exploitation....many aspects of the thinking behind the CAP were exactly along these lines - and CAP reform as I understand it seeks to return to those 'social' aspects much more. But we've heard that many hill farmers don't like the idea that they may be employed as 'glorified park keepers'.
Little skill/knowledge is required to vaccinate animals - farmers could even have vaccinated their own stock. If scarce resources had not been diverted to the unnecessary voluntary, firebreak and 48 hour contiguous culls then more could have been concentrated on tasks that were relevant to the control of FMD..
if the culling was designed to protect the economics of the industry then I think Government should be open about that and not pretend it is/was necessary to contain spread of FMD.. And if the culling was designed to protect the economics of the industry rather than to contain the spread of FMD why should the taxpayer pay for it?No other industry has been or would be protected in this way....Why did so many TVIs merely 'carry out orders' rather than challenge them or withdraw their labour? The vast majority of TVIs had plenty of work in their practices and had no need to seek work as TVIs. had the TVIs refused to carry out these flawed policies then MAFF/Govt would have had to do something else....
Gareth Davies stated weeks ago that however quickly the epidemic was brought under control he believed it would be 3-4 years minimum - regardless of how quickly UK may achieve disease-free status - before UK might have export customers willing to take our produce -by which time they will almost certainly have found secure alternative sources of supply anyway. the value of this export market is in any case trivial compared to costs associated with the control policies - and their consequences - adopted in this epidemic.
Global free market capitalism with free movement of capital exposes everyone to blackmail doesn't it? For example the German economy is heavily dependent on car manufacturing and German car makers and banks have forced changes (favourable to their corporate interests) in labour, employment and social welfare legislation by threatening to take production elsewhere.
Globalisation of food production is UNSUSTAINABLE.
Local people should eat locally produced food and not waste finite and polluting fuel importing what can be produced on the doorstep without having to be expensively refrigerated or sprayed with God knows what to keep it looking fresh: this is irrespective of the disease risk and also of the welfare issue.
Free market economics are not allowed to pertain, probably with regard to anything but certainly not agriculture. When you look at the cost of transporting anything even a short distance, how can it be economical to transport bulky food halfway around the world - that is, if it is not subsidised: IT MUST BE! Milk quota is currently 16 pence per litre to buy. I have 70 cows and need 350,000 litres of milk quota - #56,000 worth. Can you tell me whether it would be economical for me to go out and buy this? How many years are milk quotas going to last? How many of those years will we be under quota? Will quota be 8p or less to buy if I wait until next year? Will there be any compensation when they are abolished? I would be far happier if quotas were abolished, together with the parasites who 'farm' them and I would willingly take my chance in a free market. I have no wish for the milk price to go up because the quota price will immediately follow it.
Trade agreements are another matter: they mean selling us down the river to help another industry - usually a service industry like insurance or finance. The reason for trade agreements is that farmers represent an insignificant voting power - less than 1% of the population in this country.
You do not have to be an animal rights activist to consider it wrong to export live animals for slaughter simply because you can con the French that the meat is French if it is slaughtered in a French abattoir.
Sadly even the organic food industry plays similar 'tricks'.
Furthermore, our government has allowed a situation to arise where slaughtering costs and disposal of specified risk material (SRM) in this country makes it far cheaper to transport the animals for slaughter on the continent, where they are still paid for meat and bone meal (although the rules are being tightened up).This is not free market economy!
I have suffered considerable loss as a result of FMD. Thank God I haven't had my animals compulsorily purchased but, because I haven't, I haven't had any 'compensation' either, despite not being able to sell any pork or any barren cows and having to buy expensive feed and bedding for them and being unable to take grasskeep. This kind of loss, I reluctantly accept, despite the fact that I hold the government entirely responsible for it.
There are probably now more urban dwellers with jobs in the food industry now than there were in the past - somehow these people do not seem to 'relate' to farmers (or vice versa) with whom one might imagine they had a common cause.
Back in the '60's we were importing Danish bacon so that we could export motor cars. The fact that we imported New Zealand lamb and butter militated against us in the European market quota allocation: why should our farmers suffer for this type of political trading? It is something imposed upon us by government, supposedly for the greater good, and should therefore be paid for by everyone.
The government has made a fundamental decision to exploit cheap foreign labour and import our food. Whilst to me that is at best amoral it forces me to become ever more intensive get bigger to survive and hope that I can starve the Africans and Poles through my efficiency before they starve me through price cutting. This government has dismantled the bits of parliament it dosn't like, raped the countryside and is trying to sell my nation to a european superstate.... I love my country and my heritage but will my sons have to fight a war of independance for freedom and democracy because not enough of us said No? Like my father said to me, "We look after this land for the next generation , not so much owned but loaned from our sons - and so it is with Britain. What legacy will you leave your children if you don't fight for what is right?
"All it takes for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing."