In my opinion the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) has been little more than land nationalisation by the back door. This latest announcement has now confirmed that the iron hand of control over our farm land, is no longer coming stealthily via the back door, but blatantly and all too visibly through the front door, and directly from Brussels.
Having decided, as have a majority of farmers, not to enter the new ‘Countryside Stewardship Scheme’, I am now totally convinced we made the right decision.
What I did not know then, because I had not read the small print, was that in accepting EU money for entering into this latest ‘environmental’ scheme, we would have to advertise the fact by erecting huge billboards in our fields, declaring our gratitude to the EU for paying us a pittance for doing what most of us do anyway.
As The Daily Telegraph noted so prominently on its front page on Saturday; the 2,500 landowners who have already entered into this scheme, must now advertise the fact in a way which can be seen by the public. Thus forcing them to become part of the “EU propaganda machine”. This at a time when the debate over Britain’s membership of the EU is raging. Failure to do so will be in breach of the agreement, resulting in penalties, or the entire funding being snatched back.
I wonder how many of us will now be tempted to erect billboards stating that we are NOT entering into this new scheme but caring for our environment, managing our farmland appropriately and enhancing the wildlife and woodlands without this new ‘Countryside Stewardship’ funding from the EU! I can’t wait to see the variety of designs popping up all over the countryside.
It will be interesting to see how local councils view this latest development. Some District Councils, like ours, do not allow ‘advertising’ to be displayed along roadsides. They either pull the signs down or stick ‘cancelled’ across them. I wonder if planning permission will be required by farmers before this EU propaganda will be allowed.
There is already concern that thousands of billboards will blight the countryside, so this could become quite interesting, and no doubt questions will be asked. Perhaps Mr Cameron would like to explain where Localism begins and directives from Brussels ends.
I am beginning to wonder how many more horses will have to die before Strangles become a notifiable disease. I have recently experienced this nasty vigorous disease spread through a yard of 15 horses, some of which have been very unwell, including one which died. This was unlucky as well as being a rare outcome, but followed a secondary infection, known as ‘bastard strangles’.
This virus is spread mostly through nose to nose contact but can be spread by handlers or communal use of water troughs and buckets etc. The effect of the disease can be horrendous with high temperatures and huge abscesses developing around their heads, both internally and externally. In some cases severely restricting the horses breathing.
Any yard which knowingly has the disease should be closed down immediately, until six weeks after the last outbreak. This is indeed what all responsible vets and owners will ensure, with all the related biosecurity notices and infection control firmly in place.
However, it is quite apparent that there are irresponsible owners, yard managers and dealers who do not acknowledge an outbreak in their yards. Or adhere to vital biosecurity measures and follow the appropriate and lock down and isolation procedure.
They negligently and irresponsibly move horses out of their yards, attend shows, sales and go hunting, with horses which may not yet show symptoms, but turnout to be carriers.
Horses have passports but these are issued by over 80 different authorities, making it impossible to regulate or control movement. An industry which is worth around £3.4billion, employs over 250,000 people both directly and indirectly cannot remain so fragmented.
In order to remain both competitive and healthy both nationally and internationally, it is surely time for one authority such as The British Horse Industry Confederation or even the Federation Equestre Internationale to issue a basic passport which will regulate movement and facilitate immediate control of horses and stables diagnosed with this disease. This new essential passport should take priority over, and run alongside the individual breed society passports.
In other European countries spot checks are routine and fines issued if passports are not produced and up to date. Any horse on the move or attending an event must have its passport, showing in particular its health status and that of the stables it has come from.
When farm livestock diseases such as Foot & Mouth break out, it is possible to isolate the farm, district, county, or even shut down the entire industry. Strangles is not a very dissimilar disease. It causes welfare problems for horses, and is costly for owners and in the long run the industry. It is now time to introduce an effective procedure to control this and other transferable equine diseases.
Carola Godman Irvine