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Phil Latham: A plea to the new government, sick of captain clipboard, and all set for silaging

"I’m sick of being held to ransom by captain clipboard who’s more worried about ticking boxes than achieving the objective," says our Cheshire In Your Field columnist.
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Phil Latham
Phil Latham
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'I'm sick of being held to ransom by captain clipboard....'

Our three days of British Eventing and sports horse classes were a great success, with many thanks needed to everyone involved. The weather was kinder than the forecast had suggested and we seemed to get a fair amount of spectator interest to support the competitors and trade stands.


The weather gods can be fickle and I apologise in advance to those considering silaging later in the week as I’ve put the mowers in the first 40ha (100 acres) of grass to be cut. I think sometimes they see this as a provocation, so we might have gales and sleet by this afternoon.

Since the event I’ve been swamped by paperwork, NVZ derogation returns, NVZ records for an audit by the Environment Agency, ELS agreement returns, BPS application and nearly 1,000 emails to delete. I know my arms, back and legs were glad of the rest, but really is this farming?


We’re only part way through the clear up for the event. This week we’ll be packing up the cross country area, wrapping up 5km of string, roughly 1,000 posts, 250 flags, 150 numbers, removing the jump anchors, moving all the fences, repairing all the ground and getting things ready so that we can add the remaining grass that hasn’t been mown or squashed to first cut silage part two which we hope to do in 10 days or so.


Thank goodness the election is over. I hope that the new government can now deliver on its promises and there’s no doubt in my mind that it’s the best result if you’re concerned about TB policy and the political will to deal with the uncontrolled burden of infection in wildlife in some areas of the country. With a working majority I hope implementation of the TB strategy can proceed at a pace, but I would plead for two things; that the case for the policy is supported by investment in full post mortems of badgers and the results are transparent, and that implementation isn’t hampered by civil servants who prefer box ticking to pragmatic disease management.


As someone who’s failed to be part of the badger edge vaccination programme because of a literal interpretation of the rules, which I believe was almost on the autistic end of the spectrum, I’m sick of being held to ransom by captain clipboard who’s more worried about ticking boxes than achieving the objective.


Phil Latham, Cheshire

Phil Latham 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.

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