It was seasonally good news when Roddy Bushell confirmed this week the Fitzwilliam Estate would

grant a threee-month extension to the current cattle market lease, taking it up to the beginning of April

Pat Foxton was delighted. “This generous gesture is appreciated by the farming fraternity and will enable the FarmersCompany to make more progress in the relocation project,” he said.


New online RPA service

There was great excitement in the office on Monday afternoon when the RPA rang to inform me that I could start using the new online service for the Basic Payment Scheme.

Instructions came through overnight and we gathered excitedly round the computer screen on Tuesday morning to commence the registration process.

Unfortunately the first screen was as far as we got, containing an unexplained message “CAP Information Service currently not available”.

So having failed at the first hurdle, I went back to our professional website to see if others were having the same experience; and as I suspected the biggest obstacle is the verification process required by RPA which involves producing all sorts of identity checks.

The procedure is apparently so difficult that the RPA are now advising agents to bypass it all together and try the alternative route by using the old fashioned telephone to ring them direct.

I can only say that it is pretty disappointing and that unless some rapid improvements are made the whole of our industry is going to be in a miserable mess by spring.


Round-up on the badger cull

I haven’t ranted for a bit about badgers so in case you think the problem and not the badgers are dead, here is an end of year update.

Only 2 trial areas in Gloucestershire and Somerset were allowed to go ahead in 2014, which is a real pity because the more trials there are, the more you dilute the saboteurs and the easier it is to deliver a result.

Nevertheless the farmers in the cull zones have stuck to their task and survived the most intense pressure from activists who have resorted to unacceptable levels of intimidation and harassment.

One farmer’s wife quoted some examples:-

• People outside the house 24 hours a day and shining torches into the bedroom at night.

• Constant face to face confrontation and continuous filming with the Activists

wearing balaclavas and getting so close you could smell what they had for their last meal.

• Repeated silent phone calls and bogus letters saying that other farmers were pulling out of the cull.

• Cars stalking their daughters to the point where they were left sobbing.

• The family didn’t go out for 11 ½ weeks because they were terrified about what might happen to their property.

Despite all the above, the contractors feel they have made good progress and on the ground there were very few badgers left in the trial areas at the end of the year.

He commented that official figures suggested Gloucestershire was well short of its target but this was largely a reflection of the completely ludicrous estimates of badger numbers.

I and many others in the rural community will applaud the tenacity and bravery of those who have endured the culling trials and hope that they will be extended fully next year.

One has only to look at Ireland where the culling programme is now in its 10th year and their regulations allow for all badgers to be shot within an area of 2km around the farm that has more than 3 reactors.

Cattle slaughtered for TB in Ireland has fallen from 25,000 down to 10,000 per annum over the decade whilst in the UK our figures have risen to a stubbornly consistent 35,000 to 40,000 cattle per annum.

As at this Tuesday morning, the EC have approved DEFRA’s plans to tackle TB next year which does include culling in hot spot areas.

With the elections looming in May, Labour has announced that it would not only scrap the roll out policy but would abandon the current pilot schemes.

Somehow and sometime, we have to realise that this country has the highest rate of bovine TB in Europe and Germany for example has no qualms about dealing with the wildlife reservoir of disease – they shoot 66,000 badgers every year. What is wrong with us ?


Supply chain bullies

Following last week’s scandal about Premier Foods requiring their suppliers to pay them capital if they wanted to stay, the Federation of Small Businesses have uncovered further alarming evidence of bullying.

• “Pay to Stay” – this is the Premier Foods practice and a survey has revealed that some 260,000 businesses could be facing the pay to stay charges.

• “Pay You Later” – Although companies are meant to pay within 60 days, the big boys are often negotiating longer terms up to 120 days which in effect gives them an interest free loan.

• “Late Payment “ – This is not uncommon practice and often implemented at the end of a company’s financial year.

• Discounts for Prompt Payment – This is an arbitrary procedure which companies adopt paying themselves an automatic 3% discount if they pay on or before the allotted day.

• Retrospective Discounting – Finally at the end of a supply contract, a supplier can be told that he is to give retrospective discounts if he wishes to continue with the company’s business.

It is really very unsavoury.


Livestock haulier shortage

Over the past 30 years there has been a gradual and continuous increase in the number of farmers using their own trailers to take livestock to market and the consequence has been that the large family of professional haulage contractors has dwindled to such an extent that there is concern about the industry’s long term productivity.

The most restrictive factor is the legislation on hours and this is being tackled by the Road Hauliers Association.

It makes it all the more necessary for us to preserve Pat Foxton and Co!


Christmas poultry sale

Don’t forget to buy your Christmas dinner off a local farmer, our poultry auctions are :-

York - Saturday the 20th December at 9.30am. - long legged birds only

York - Monday the 22nd December – at 10.30am.

Malton - Tuesday 23rd December - at 11 am.



Forward 51 cattle including 6 bulls and 16 cows 759 sheep including 544 lambs and 215 ewes medium steers to 236.5p J R Gardiner Carnaby ave 228.87p heavy steers to 235.5p D R Jackson Carnaby ave 225.12p light heifers to 245.5p G I Marwood Harome aver 221.7p medium heifers to 248p N Marwood harome ave 203.85p heavy heifers to 260.5p J & R Waind Brawby ave 225.42p light bulls to 181.5p B Eddon Farworth ave 151.54p medium bulls to 201.5p A W and A Turnbull Rookbarugh aver 177.95p Cows to 185.5p Ventress and Partners Littlebeck aver 121.76p standard lambs to 129p (£40) DW Fenby aver 129.03p light lambs to 185p (£70) M L Dawson Crayke aver 166.77p medium lambs to 226p (£99.50) M Ward Great Habton ave 182.52p heavy lambs to 230p (£115) T G Warriner Pickering ave 179p overweight lambs to 182p (£100) R H Green Pickering ave 170.57p Ewes to £100 W L Caley Tibthorpe aver £58.93