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Phil Latham: Looking forward to a good weekend of competition on-farm and a baby

Well the sun is out, grass growth is prolific, my wife is just eight weeks off her due date and its our British Eventing Horse Trials and Sports Horse show over Easter. It does not get much better than this.

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My adrenalin levels are running high with so much to do and organise and to look forward to. It is a great team effort to get everything ready for the horse trials. It takes over about 40 hectares (100 acres) of the farm, so there is a huge amount of ground work to do.

 

It is a thrill to host the horse trials with 750 entries into a combined dressage ,show-jumping and cross country competition, with classes from grass roots up to advanced intermediate (AI). We have offered enhanced prize money this time for the AI class to tempt top riders to come and we have 32 top flight rider combinations entered.

 

We are also running their show-jumping last and in reverse order to try and create a better spectacle and atmosphere to round off the weekend. If our strategy is right, we will hopefully get more spectators this time and that should keep our 30 trade stands happy.

 

There is only one thing which is dampening my enthusiasm at the moment and that is TB policy. TB is continuing its march northward into Lancashire and at a farmer meeting last week it seemed there was an inevitability it will continue onwards, while the current systems fail to control the spread.

Two questions

I was saddened to read the IEP report and that Owen Paterson had delayed roll-out of the free shooting strategy to reduce TB in badgers. At the heart of the issue there are simply two key questions: what do we do about cattle to cattle/cattle to badger transmissions, and what do we do about badger to badger and badger to cow transmissions?

 

The first requires a wholesale change in attitude from farmers and I believe we need to adopt annual testing and mandatory declaration of risk at the point of sale for stock. I cannot see who loses out with this; it would be easy just to download your Defra calculated current risk status stickers and put them on your passports, and then to forfeit your compensation if you increased your risk.

 

The second requires the de-politicisation of policy, a humane technique to remove infected badgers and possibly vaccine deployment where badgers are clean.

 

Without both, farmers will continue to endure the impacts and a higher burden of future costs.

 

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