Facing complete meltdown in credibility, the Prime Minister has shuffled his remaining supporters to form a new Cabinet.

In agriculture, we are sadly left with Hilary Benn, who continues to wreak havoc on our livestock industry, refusing to stand up to the badger brigade.

Unfortunately, we have lost food and farming minister Jane Kennedy who – despite her Liverpudlian background – was showing great empathy with our industry.

She apparently refused to pledge continuing support for Gordon Brown and was shown the door.

In her place we are going to get an ex-London firefighter, Jim Fitzpatrick, who describes his political interests as “anti-poverty, anti racism, regeneration and fire!”

There looks to be the odd gap in his farming knowledge – let’s hope he’s a quick learner.

Out of interest, Ben Bradshaw, late of Defra, has been appointed to the Cabinet as Housing Minister.

Sour note

Sadly, last week the farmers co-operative Dairy Farmers of Britain went into liquidation.

Its 1,800 members will not only lose this month’s average milk cheque of £14,000 but also their investment of £25,000.

It is a real tragedy, and for some farmers could mean they will have to sell up. Meanwhile, life goes on in the parlour, as you can’'t turn cows off like a tap, and the DFB producers are desperately seeking other purchasers to take their milk.

In this vacuum some milk buyers are exploiting the situation by offering the beleaguered DFB farmers shamefully low milk prices.

It's a miserable situation in which there are few bright spots. One such is the sale of Lubborn Cheese in Somerset, which will enable those suppliers to keep going.

Wool prices fall I apologise for being a harbinger of doom and gloom this week but I got advance notice from the Wool Board this morning to say that our clip this year would be worth £194 averaging 33p/kg.

As the shearer charged £210 last year and we had matched labour costs of over £100, the whole exercise becomes a loss leader.

I don’t blame the Wool Board, but gradually over the years with the competing introduction of synthetic fibres, the market has contracted to the point where we depend heavily upon carpet manufacturers. With the collapse of the housing market, the fortunes of carpet makers have also suffered.

Shearing has become another job for which we have to pay to have the pleasure of doing; but this year we have some consolation in that prices for fat lambs are at an all- time high.

Mapping update

I have been flagging up in this column that the Rural Land Registry is going to update its mapping, and the Single Payment System will use these maps as a base for calculating our entitlements; so it is an important issue for us.

All the work is going to be done prior to the sending out of the SP forms for 2010, which will be prepopulated with the new areas.

There is a roll-out programme for each county and, so far, the closest to our region are Humberside and South Yorkshire, which will be dealt with in June/July and then West Yorkshire, which falls into the August/September batch.

North Yorkshire is not yet on the list, so it will be dealt with from October onwards. The procedure, broadly, will be that the RLR will despatch it's view of your farm boundaries and you will have 28 days in which to respond.

If you use a professional agent, you should be making early contact with them. I will keep you updated with any potential pitfalls.

Market report

17 cattle including 25 bulls and 31 OTMs and cows 972 sheep including 616 lambs 260 ewes light steers to 170p M T Bulmer Salton ave 153.4p heavy steers to 170p D B Wass Sinnington ave 154.5 light heifers to 200p G D Nutt Thirtleby ave 164.5 heavy heifers to 212p G I Marwood Harome ave 171.9p heavy bulls to 168p R H Mason Wold Newton ave 155.2p OTMs to 136p Cows to 120p ave 102.7p stock bulls to £1140 ave £1157 standard lambs to 201p G D Warters Boythorpe ave 185.3p medium lambs to 218p S D Whittaker Marishes ave 181.8p heavy lambs to 206p R Green Pickering ave 181.1p standard hoggets to 153p C Hockley Yedingham ave 142.3p medium hoggs to 143p Burdass Lamb Limited ave 126.9p heavy hoggs to 145p R S Hall Lund ave 130.8p Ewes to £88 P Bannister Butterwick ave £65.20.