One of the best sights in the spring is watching the cattle when first turned out to grass after the long winter penned up in their sheds. To see them gamble across the fields enjoying their freedom, brings a smile to ones face. The dairy cows are most comical as they charge about leaping in the air like spring lambs, their unruly udders swinging to and fro, as they enjoy the sun on their backs and the first flush of spring grass beneath their feet.
It is gratifying to know that Secretary of State for the Department of Agriculture, Liz Truss, has taken on aboard the plight of farmers trying to access the RPA website to complete claims for the Single farm Payment. The news last Wednesday that the deadline has been extended by a month, to 15th June has not come too soon, and is a huge relief.
The RPA website which has proved to be useless, has now been closed down for everything other than registering. Paper forms will now be sent out by the end of the month
Last week the Minister came to East Sussex and met conservative parliamentary candidate for Lewes Maria Caulfield and local farmers on John Heck’s dairy farm at Firle. The Minister had come to hear directly from the farming community what matters were causing them most concern.
These included bTB, the lack of co-operation by the Environment Agency regarding the flooding issue along the Cookmere Valley, resulting in the flooding of hundreds of acres of valuable farmland. Also, the huge amount of red tape and bureaucracy still having to be dealt with on a daily basis, and the difficulties facing farmers trying to complete the online application for Single Farm Payments.
The extension period for Single Farm Payment applications, was announced the following day; if she can deal as swiftly with the other problems, she will certainly be applauded by the farming community.
The Budget gave little away. The Chancellor sent out a ‘steady as she goes’ message which should reassure us that Britain is heading in the right direction. Corporation Tax was 28 per cent at the start of the parliament, by next month it will be reduced to 20 per cent. This should encourage companies to take on more staff.
It is worth noting that 73.3 per cent of the population are now in work, the highest in history, and 1.7million up since 2010. Great Britain added more jobs in 2014 than the rest of Europe put together, and five private jobs were created for every public sector job which were shed.
Low paid work has become more attractive as starting tax has risen from £6,475 in 2010 to £10,600; up 20 per cent.
The downside to the success of all this job creation, combined with the clampdown on immigrant workers, is that there is now an acute shortage of labour including trained lorry drivers, carpenters, electricians, bricklayers, nurses and suitable candidates for entry level jobs in Midland factories, amongst others.
The government has invested in British people, encouraged work, and steadily improved children’s education which in turn makes them employable adults. With falling energy prices, low mortgage rates and wages steadily rising, opportunities are now available for every capable young person and adult to aspire to work. The private sector is growing fast and is creating jobs faster than the domestic workforce can fill the vacancies.
There is a need for the right kind of migrant workers and it is suggested that European visas should be issued to experienced workers from France, Spain and Italy, where unemployment has reached critical levels. They must prove they have a job to come to and a sponsor. Just as we do for those coming from outside the EU.
If David Cameron is to renegotiate anything amongst his European cousins in Brussels, this is surely where he should begin.
There is consternation in the village of Ashurst following the planning inspector’s decision to support the appeal to install the solar farm at Prior’s Byne Farm. They are now hoping that the second site which is under appeal will not go the same way. A local who has campaigned vigorously against these developments which he feels will turn Ashurst into a Sussex Solar City said, “This arbitrary decision is a major setback to people who are trying to preserve the Sussex Countryside, as well as to Horsham DC and Ashurst Parish Council, who highlighted the detrimental effect on the landscape, when they rejected the plan.”
He added “Local MP Nick Herbert has highlighted the democratic short comings of the planning inspectorate, in his bid to have it scrapped. Given this latest announcement, it can’t come soon enough.”
The inspector’s report mentions the lack of brown field sites in the Horsham area. Perhaps he should have been given a tour of the industrial trading estates springing up throughout the area where he would have spotted acres of available roof space crying out for solar panels.
Carola Godman Irvine