Farmer, Campaigner & Columnist

  • Written by Carola Godman Irvine
  • Posted on Jan 27, 2021
  • Articles

By the end of last week nearly 5.5 million people had been vaccinated and for 466,796 it was their second dose.  Considering the first was only administered on 8th December, the roll out in 48 days is quite remarkable.

How fortunate that Boris turned down the offer to join the EU in acquiring and administering the vaccine.  Just like most of what Brussels does, their system has proved to be less than efficient.

Years ago when I visited Holland, my generous hosts went to extraordinary lengths to show me the iconic sights across their unique country which included the beautiful tulip fields, vast numbers of graceful windmills, and the network of cycle routes, many of which pre-dated the arrival of the automobile, which is noteworthy.

The Netherlands is one of the most populated countries on the planet, two-thirds of which is vulnerable to flooding.  The low-lying regions have been fighting back water for more than 1,000 years when farmers built the first dykes.  Windmills have been pumping water off the land since the 14th century.  In the 17th century the process was intensified as the country was prospering.

Donald Trump is not the only one who has been banned from Facebook.  It was reported in the Sunday Telegraph that the social media group has sent individuals to Faceboof “jail” for up to 48 hours for mentioning the well-known beauty spot Devil’s Dyke which it decided was “offensive hate speech”!  It has since back-tracked and apologised – but really?  I wonder how the Dutch would feel about having to re-name their dykes.

Lamb prices are holding up despite the scare stories put about pre-Brexit.  In fact some farmers are receiving record prices for their lambs.  Hopefully the weather is kind when lambing starts in earnest in due course, although we have already had our first arrival at Ote Hall.

Defra has produced some arbitrary new rules for transporting livestock.  It would appear without actually understanding their implications on the livestock industry. Following the eight-week “Improvement to Animal Welfare in Transport” probe, intended to ban live animal exports from England and Wales for slaughter and further fattening in Europe, a series of measures for general animal transport, including an unhelpful ban on journeys above 40 miles on days when external temperatures are forecast to be below 5C or above 30C.

Defra also proposes to introduce changes to in-transit headroom, which could see tw0-deck lorries reduced to one thus making the transport of lambs unaffordable – certainly double the cost.

The priority of all farmers is the welfare of our livestock.  We go to great lengths to ensure our sheep, cattle and other farm animals to arrive at their destination in top top condition.  It is therefore a puzzle to understand why Defra considers it necessary to bring in new regulations, when the current system works well and has done for decades.

The total ban on live exports also makes little sense.  Some of the journeys from the south east of England across the Channel to France are far shorter than taking livestock to Scotland or the north of England.  If there is an open and lucrative market a couple of hours away surely that journey is preferable to heading north for journeys of eight hours or more?

Perhaps those clamouring to curb this traditional flow of livestock should arrange to accompany a haulier.  That way they may understand that the livestock have a safe and reasonably comfortable journey and are none the worse for their trip on arrival

We are delighted and grateful to Mid-Sussex Planning Committee for granting Ote Hall Farm full planning consent for the farm shop and tea room last Thursday.  This essential development financially future-proofs and thus ensures the independence of Ote Hall Farm into the next century.