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Phil Latham: Drawing up a Christmas list to improve the industry

Christmas is a time for family and I am looking forward to spending our first one with baby Daisy. It is the time of year for making resolutions, wishes and lists for Santa, so I thought I would make a list of my own.

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It is also a time for reflection and appreciation of the things we have, as there are many worse off than ourselves. I have heard of many farmers who will be out of dairy contracts and who will be receiving unjustifiably low market prices. With some producing as much as eight million litres a year, it just goes to show how vulnerable we are individually.

 

For Christmas, I would like three things: a milk price which gives me an equitable share of the available margin, leadership from the organisations which purport to represent dairy farmers to address the imbalance in negotiations, and a unifying bovine TB policy which delivers less infection.

 

But, as I keep telling Sam, ‘I want never gets’. It is up to us as farmers to work together and hold our leaders and policy makers to account and drive the changes we need - I am just not sure we are too good at doing it.

 

It is a big request. I know as we have just received another letter about milk price cuts and there appears to be no move towards a platform to negotiate better prices. Also, it looks like we are heading for 175 cases of bovine TB in Cheshire this year, double what we saw four years ago.

 

Still, there may be some comfort in the news the latest average price of products traded globally was up 2.4 per cent.

 

Those in the Cheshire ‘edge’ may also benefit as TB testing will be scheduled every six months to speed up detection and removal. It beggars belief the edge was not moved as the endemic area spread across the county.

 

With no prospect of a cull in the area, I wonder how many vaccination schemes will get off the ground and whether the anti-cull RSPCA will dip into their deep pockets to help roll out this untested solution.

 

I hope we can persuade them to stop playing roulette with rehabilitated badger releases; it is the little things which count.

 

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