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Friday, 15 June, 2001, 12:51 GMT 13:51 UK
Farmer's Diary: What now?

Life starts to get back to normal
Farmer Adam Quinney continues his BBC News Online diary. Five weeks after having his livestock slaughtered, he is now wondering how he can get things back to something like normal.

At long last our D notice movement restriction order has been lifted on the farm. After three months this has come none too soon.

At long last we can send the dairy cows home before any more calve down. We have to move quickly on two counts, the first being the risk that the infected area will be reduced, moving the dairy farm outside the infected area making it impossible then to move the cows.

Things have grown, but more rain needed
The second reason is we have only thirty days from when the restrictions are lifted to when we have to stop grazing the set aside land, which we are normally not allowed to use between January and September.

We need as much time as possible for the grass where the cows are to recover before moving the sheep back into those fields.

It seems very strange after the wettest winter on record but we could do with some rain to get the grass to grow. The ground has turned to grade A concrete and the young maize plants could do with an inch of rain.

If we do not get rain soon some of the maize plants will surely die. The sheep like the dry weather though; the grass dry matter is high so their feed intake is high which in turn means that the lambs will grow well.

Sheep takes care of things - but what's the future?
At the moment we seem to spend a great deal of time - perhaps too much - pondering our future.

  • With no exports of lamb this autumn what price will lamb be with a 20% over-supply?
  • What will replacement suckler cows cost us after having all ours slaughtered on the welfare scheme?
  • If we do not buy cows, will we re-grass down the fields that we have planted this spring with maize?
  • With a smaller flock and no cows how will this affect our sales next year?
  • What will be the impact on movement controls this autumn if we do try to buy stock? We always buy in store cattle in the autumn to finish for slaughter in the winter.
  • Will the new department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs force unrealistic ideas on the farming community or will they use this crisis for good and help with the restructuring that this industry desperately needs all the way up the food chain?

    Over the last couple of weeks I have found myself involved in discussions on the way forward for farming.

    At one meeting I was describing to mainly non-farmers what we had been through with our sheep and the conditions that they had had to endure because of movement bans.

    Adam Quinney
    Adam Quinney on his Warwickshire farm
    I found I couldn't carry on speaking because a feeling of great sorrow and anger began to well up inside me. I should imagine there are a lot of other farmers who feel the same, and this crisis after BSE etc is the final straw both emotionally and financially.

    The young bulls that we have turned out have been keeping me on my toes. I feel like a badly dressed matador when feeding them, dodging young bulls while trying to carry a sack of food and pouring it into the trough can be a white knuckle ride at times, but they seem to enjoy it.

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