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LAMMA 2021

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From the editor: Environmentalists are manipulating inept agencies

After a scorching Easter weekend when some members of the general public showed they had little understanding of the countryside by sparking wildfires with their disposable barbecues, our public officials showed they were equally oblivious to rural protocols by banning the shooting of pigeons and crows, to name just a couple.

The backlash against the latter has been vociferous from farmers and countryside enthusiasts, with extra fuel added to the fire by the fact that Chris Packham, the poster boy of rural antagonism, is a champion of Wild Justice, the group that legally challenged the shooting of such bird species.

 

The flurry of calls for Packham to be sacked by the BBC as one of its presenters has once again ratcheted up, with an online petition garnering thousands of signatures from across the spectrum. No doubt many of them are farmers incensed by someone who has become a bete noire for agriculture.

 

Away from the online vitriol, the shooting decision is being seen in some quarters as proof the regulatory bodies governing UK farming are increasingly out of touch with the industry they oversee.

 

Farming can be a harsh business that deals in the fundamentals of life and death, yet public officials, civil servants and some MPs seem to recoil at such realities.

 

Ensuring you can keep crops free of pigeons or lambing fields low on crows and magpies is part of the natural reality many farmers face, and it is now a process that has been made harder by the absolutely baffling decision to ban shooting them.


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It must also raise real concerns that organisations such as Wild Justice are able to manipulate the likes of Natural England by pushing the right legal buttons. The fact the ban came on Tony Juniper’s first day in post as Natural England chairman is hopefully a coincidence, but there are many in agriculture who continue to be concerned about his appointment.

 

For farming to prosper, it must be governed by common sense, not knee-jerk reactions to environmental hysteria. In this latest instance, farmers, their crops and livestock, as well as the wider songbird ecosystem, could all suffer.

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