Circumstances can change abruptly, which is not entirely unusual.
Indeed, the weather has turned, bringing combining to a halt for the foreseeable future. We had two fatally sick steers within a period of 24 hours, and another incident of illegal fly tipping; the padlock and chain having been ripped off the gate giving access to the field. Then to cap it all our lovely long term residential tenants unexpectedly told me they are leaving for family reasons, which I totally understand.
Such is life, but it all adds pressure when trying to balance several ‘balls in the air’, while fighting off assaults from unexpected quarters, and focusing on potential projects which will secure the future of the farms.
However, it is important to focus on the positives and we have many for which to be grateful, including our genuine optimism for the future.
Theresa Villiers and Defra need to get a grip and address several issues. Two in particular are currently top of my wish list.
Farmers and landowners should not be responsible for the cost of disposing of rubbish illegally tipped onto private land. Local municipal tips are totally liable for the incidents around here. Their policy of not accepting anything unless it fits into the boot of a domestic car, results in this criminal activity and something must be done.
Thirty Month beef is more complicated but could be solved with a sweep of the Minister’s pen.
The BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) crisis which was first confirmed in British cattle in 1986, led to numerous laws about beef – including how old beef could be before being slaughtered.
The success of eradicating BSE was down to the meticulous measures imposed by the government to control the disease; steps which have led to British beef being amongst the safest and best in the world, and profitable once again.
One of the measures which was put in place after the epidemic was the Over Thirty Month Rule – cattle could not be sold for food if they were aged over 30 months. This rule was lifted in November 2005, then in March 2013, the government agreed that cattle aged over 72 months no longer had to be tested for BSE.
Today beef farmers are still constrained by another BSE-related measure, called Specified Risk Material Control (SRM) – the removal of the vertebral column and other parts of the animal. This raises the slaughter fee, often as much as £35 a head, so OTM animals sold at auction and elsewhere fetch a fraction of the price of under 30 months.
Mature, grass fed beef cattle produce a marbling which is evenly distributed throughout the meat, giving tasty, succulent beef.
Age and diet are the most significant determining factors for beef flavour, and beef on the bone is preferable for both butchers and customers.
Removing the SRM ban would have an obvious beneficial knock-on fiscal effect for farmers, suppliers, butchers and consumers – and possibly the economy as a whole.
We have no incentive to keep cattle OTM. A fact that is also drastically affecting Britain’s native cattle breeds which take longer to mature. It also denies the consumer the opportunity to buy top quality beef.
It is now time this scheme which is archaic and unnecessary is stopped.
I am surprised no one has questioned exactly what John McDonnell intends to ‘take over’ when he sends Jeremy Corbyn to Buckingham Palace in a cab. Does he mean the government or the monarchy? I rather suspect he intends both!