The despair of farmers across the country is understandable, particularly in and around the Somerset Levels, as the flooding which started at Christmas continues. Several farms have lost arable crops worth £250,000 and constant water logging has seen areas of land completely written off.
Livestock farmers have had to sell or send animals away as fields and buildings are submerged in several feet of water. The water has nowhere to go and farmers are concerned that unless something is done, the situation could get worse each year. They say the knock-on effect of years of neglect by the Environment Agency is putting an immense strain on farm businesses, and decimating crops and local wildlife.
I rather think the EA is more to blame than Mr Cameron, who it is reported was blamed for the floods by UKIP councillor David Silvester. He was suspended from the party by Nigel Farage after he claimed that the country ‘had been beset by storms because the Prime Minister had acted arrogantly against the Gospel, by passing same-sex marriage laws’.
There is nothing new about blaming man for climate change, or about extreme weather, as we know. In the 14th century there was very high rainfall causing a rise in sea levels, in particular the Caspian Sea. It was a time of striking advance in polar and alpine glaciers.
The cultivation of vineyards in England ceased and wide areas of Europe were no longer able to grow wheat.
There were disastrous harvests throughout the Century and in particular 1315 to 1319 when every country in Europe lost virtually the whole of one but in some areas two or three harvests due to the lack of sunshine and heavy rain.
The lack of sun was so great in these years that salt production from evaporation was largely extinguished with a great loss of meat preservation and production.
It was said at the time that Europe had out grown its strength due to magic, but more likely the wrath of God! Perhaps Mr Silvester has been reading his history books, and maybe Mr Farage should not be so quick to condemn; the man is only offering an opinion, although one which is fairly balmy.
Beef farmers are facing reduced prices as we are being undercut by recent increases in imports of Polish and Irish beef. Much of which is going to the processors, but the overall effect has reduced the demand for all British beef thus dropping prices.
The production of finished beef cattle is fairly specific and when they are fit for slaughter it is time for them to leave the farm. If there is a delay the animals can go out of condition which effects the quality, which makes them harder to sell.
It was reported last week in the Farmers Weekly that the House of Lords has backed an RSPCA call for labelling on meat packaging to state whether animals have been slaughtered without stunning.
The RSPCA takes the position that all animals should be stunned and unconscious before slaughter, but say it respects religious beliefs and practise. They are calling for clear labelling until that time comes, so shoppers are informed and can make a choice.
During the debate it was noted that ‘there has never been any conclusive evidence to suggest that religious slaughter is any less humane than conventional mechanical methods’.
They will now await the results of an EU study into labelling meat from non-stunned animals.
The news that landscape gardener Andrew Woodhouse was found not guilty of causing grievous bodily harm to two thieves, shows that our jury system is alive and kicking and vital.
Mr Woodhouse whose company has been repeatedly targeted by thieves, was arrested after he defended himself and his property, during which the legs of one of the assailants were broken.
Not only should he not have been arrested, but the case should never have been brought to trial. Fortunately for Mr Woodhouse, twelve good men and women quite obviously had the common sense and understanding of justice which is lacking amongst the police and the judicial system.
Carola Godman Irvine