It was a pleasure to meet with so many local farmers and hear about the many difficulties facing the industry. Top of the list of concerns was the devastating effect of bovine TB. Farmers face high costs in terms of the time taken to meet the testing regime and many told of injuries to themselves and to livestock in trying to carry out the tests. Compensation often fails to adequately meet their costs if animal have to be culled and many told of their exasperation at having to cull cattle whilst badgers are highly protected under the current legislation.
Other issues causing concern are fears around tagging of sheep. I was told of the problems of ear tagging causing injuries to sheep and repeatedly falling out. Duplication of inspection regimes and bureaucracy are particular issues for farmers and need to be rationalised.
Finally, at the root of so many problems, we discussed the stranglehold on prices exerted by supermarkets. Farmers survive on very low incomes and cannot afford to take on the help they need. Farmers need fair prices for their produce.