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Phil Latham: 'It is important the prospects for European workers are sorted'

livestockfarm lifeBusinessBrexit+-

Phil farms 385ha (950 acres) in Cheshire, split between the family farm on Lord Cholmondeley’s estate and Organsdale Farm near Tarporley. He milks 300 cows, mainly pedigree Brown Swiss, as well as diversifying into business units and an equestrian facility. He is also a Nuffield Scholar. Twitter: @PhilLatham

 

We have done two cuts of silage and completed our first round of haylage in glorious sunshine. The grass has dried quicker than expected, which is a nice problem to have compared to last year when we got the grass tedded and baler out, only for the rain to start so we had to repeat the tedding again. Last year we consigned quite a few acres to the dry cows.

 

This year we have quite a pile of first class material stacked up and await the next warm spell to get the eventing ground cleared off. The negotiations following the nation’s self-harming [Brexit] vote are now under way but it will be some time before the consequences of this ‘lunacy’ become clear.

 

With agriculture being heavily reliant on non-UK staff, on-farm, in processing plants and food retail, it is important the prospects for European workers in steady jobs and for shortterm seasonal work are sorted. The socially divisive nature of the debate making EU workers feel undervalued has been compounded by the weakening value of sterling which means their take home pay is worth less.

 

You only have to look at sterling versus the Polish zloty in the last six months to see why these economic migrants might reconsider their futures and, in turn, we must consider and find solutions to the knock-on effects this might have for our industry’s sustainability.

 

Jeremy Corbyn played a blinder capturing the youth vote at the election by being both Father Christmas and a new Messiah akin to Brian out of Monty Python’s Life of Brian film, but he knows he does not yet have to deliver anything and can therefore promise everything.

 

All the while Theresa May is trying hard to hang onto power doing deals which would have been unconscionable a couple of years ago. Both main parties are supporting a ‘hard Brexit or bust’ future and I feel unrepresented. All this investment in time and resource funded by taxpayers could have been put to far better use.

 

At the last NFU national council meeting I presented those assembled with my granddad, Leonard Latham’s prosthetic limb as way of emphasising farming’s appalling safety track record.

 

John Charles- Jones also gave a speech and I was delighted that on the back of this Stuart Roberts decided to initiate a challenge of 30 health and safety improvements in 30 days, highlighting these on Twitter using #Lensleg. Could you improve yours?

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