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Inquiries will shape future of Ryedale
FEELING sorry for our planners is not a sentiment expressed too often, but today, Tuesday, the chief planning officer Gary Housden and his merry men have to face the opening of two public inquiries which will affect a lot of lives in Ryedale.
The first focuses on our regional planning strategy and is forecast to take up to two weeks.
It’s objective is to establish a whole range of policies which will become part of our Local Plan in Ryedale.
The second inquiry, and closer to my rustic heart, is into the planning application by the Fitzwilliam Malton Estate to redevelop the cattle market site without providing any relocation of this vital facility for the rural community and economy.
Kick-off is at 10am and the venue is at The Richardson Indoor Bowls Centre in Norton .
The inquiry is forecast to last about four days so by the time you read this newspaper you can still come along and make your presence felt. Evidence by the auctioneers, farmers and directors of the new Market Company will be given tomorrow morning.
Notice served to close cattle market
Last Friday the Fitzwilliam Estate delivered to my office notice to terminate the current lease on the cattle market on October 4, 2013.
I suspect the timing was chosen in anticipation of the public inquiry taking place this week, mentioned above, so that the estate’s evidence can be clear that the market is to close in a year’s time.
It seems to me to be an unnecessarily churlish action to take and that it would have been better to await the outcome of the Inquiry.
As it is, we now have the threat of execution hanging over us with the reality that there is no chance of finding an alternative site within the 12-month period.
Nevertheless, the auctioneers and the new Farmers Market Company will fight on.
Why was Jim Paice sacked?
I promised last week to share with you any further leaks dripping out of Whitehall about the major reshuffle within our agriculture department of Defra.
Firstly, as expected, Caroline Spellman has gone and I think it would be a fair reflection to say that she didn’t fulfil the post with any degree of comfort; although to her credit she did achieve a breakthrough in the badger culling debate.
Her replacement is Owen Patterson who is a dynamic right wing action man from North Shropshire who is firmly pro-hunting and took part in the gruelling Mongol Horse Derby last year. He obviously likes a challenge and will probably drive forward the red tape cutting exercise and the badger cull.
While Mr Patterson’s appointment may cause a few shivers among the green brigade, they will be heartened by the appointment of the Liberal Democrat MP David Heath who is much more of an unknown quantity for us farmers.
He does come from a rural constituency in Somerset and apparently has a good understanding of agriculture supporting issues like badger culling.
I do, however, fear that his appointment is purely political as the Liberal Democrats have for a long time wanted representation in the environmental arena.
It’s a real shame to lose Jim Paice who has done nothing wrong and comes from a proper agriculture background, albeit in Suffolk. Mr Paice had made great strides in TB culling, red tape and sorting out the RPA.
In many ways he felt he was only halfway through the job but for some reason which is not clear, David Cameron has seen fit to cast him aside.
So while we say thank you to Jim Paice for what he has done, we hold our breath for what will happen under the new regime.
Cattle compensation to be reviewed
When the EC stupidly stopped us from burying our fallen stock on farms, there was set up a national company for collecting carcases and it was run by Michael Seals who is now chairman of the Animal Health and Welfare Board.
It is this body that is now reviewing the TB eradication schemes, with a special focus on the compensation that is paid out based upon a valuation table produced by Defra.
I have long been critical of this tabular system with its “one cap fits all” valuations.
What I didn’t know was that the cost of TB as a whole takes care of 40 per cent of Defra’s total budget of £45 million.
These staggering figures have to be addressed and should at least make the Badger Trust reconsider its campaign.
I fully accept that the compensation procedures need to be reviewed and I understand Mr Seals and his Board will be promoting more farmer responsibility in disposing of TB suspect cases. But the price for our assistance should be an immediate start on badger culling.
Perhaps the first step could be to bring England in line with the rest of Europe by changing the legal status of badgers.
This would give more control to farmers and wouldn’t cost the Government a thing.
Sunshine week saves harvest
Last week’s brilliant burst of sunshine has helped salvage what is a pretty moderate harvest for cereal farmers.
Huge areas of wheat have been cut and reports coming in indicate poor yields with very mixed quality.
Anyone averaging 3t per acre this year will be well satisfied.
One problem is going to be fulfilling contracts for those that sold forward and I heard of one such case where the wheat contracted had to be of 72 bushel weight whereas the sample is now currently showing 54. With larger quantities of wheat around, the market has just eased back a little and £190 is the sort of figure talked off the combine.
However, £200 is still being offered for early November.
Barley, in contrast, has taken a lift, with expectations that the whole crop will get consumed fairly rapidly. The price of barley is now hovering around £180 per tonne.