Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Sheep Ticks

As part of my work for Scotland's Moorland Forum, I have been liaising with the Scottish Government about the work of the Sheep Tick Group that was established by the former Minister for Environment, Mike Russell MSP.  The work of this Group has not progressed beyond the issue of a Tick Factsheet in April, last year.  This factsheet was aimed at raising awareness of the general public to tick issues and from a land management perspective it is of limited value.

The Government's proposal is to split the Sheep Tick Group into two: one subgroup to consider human health issues and the other deal with animal health, and clearly it is this second group that would be of most interest to us and hopefully this will encourage progress.

The Health Protection Service website includes data on the number of Lyme disease cases and the increase from 3 in 1999 to a provisional figure of 285 in 2008 is a clear indication of why the Scottish Government is showing an interest in this disease.

I will continue to 'bang the drum' to keep tick issues as high up the agenda as possible, but are we doing enough to respond to their increasing range and abundance?  If not, what else should we be doing?

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Scotland - Future of Farming Support - Interim Inquiry Report

For those interested in the future of farming in Scotland this Interim report from the Pack Inquiry is important reading.  It is available to download from the Scottish Government's website.

The direction the Inquiry is taking appears to be to support the continuation of direct farming support (Pillar 1) but be moving towards increased accountability to the public and an increasing level of justification.  The Rural Development Programme will continue to provide public goods and an additional mechanism will be required for disadvantaged areas to maintain the viability of the farm businesses in these areas.  A direct payment top-up fund is also being considered to fund activities that achieve specified outcomes (see Report p40) or the fund could be used to support particular sectors.

Other issues being considered are a move away from the historic model, more support for new entrants, encouragement for the beef sector and the introduction of minimum grazing levels under GAEC to reduce the impact of destocking.

There will be a series of workshops around the country to obtain views.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Peak District - Vacancy - MoorLIFE Project Manager

The Moors for the Future Partnership has a vacancy for a Project Manager who will be the lead person and main point of contact for the exciting new MoorLIFE project which will restore the most degraded peat landscape in Europe.

For more details see the Moors for the Future website or request a recruitment pack from or call 01629 816361.

Closing date: 12 noon, 3 February 2010.  Interviews: 9 February 2010.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Wales - Sheep Tagging

Further to the previous post the welsh Assembly has also issued a press release.  In addition to reporting the introduction of the Regulations the release points out that Welsh lambs under 12 months old that are intended for slaughter in the UK will be allowed to be tagged with a single non electronic identifier.  It also provides details of road shows that are to be held in January.

Scotland - Sheep Tagging

The Scottish Government has issued a press release that provides a useful update on the state of play.

Key points are:
  • Tagging regulations came into force on 1 Jan 10, but no immediate action is required
  • Regulations apply to lambs born after 31 Dec 09
  • Support to be available of up to £1000 per farm for the purchase of electronic reading equipment
  • A £3 million research pilot is being set up to find the best solutions for implementing the rules in Scotland
  • Failure to comply with the new rules is not an option - farmers would lose 15-50% of their Single Farm Payments
Will this scheme be all pain or will there be some benefits to come out of it in the form of useful management information?

Monday, 4 January 2010

Scotland - Cold Weather Restrictions on Shooting

From 00.01am on Tuesday 5th January, the shooting of certain species of wildfowl is to be suspended in Scotland because of the prolonged spell of snow and ice.  See the Scottish Governments announcement and the BASC website for more the details.  The suspension will last for 14 days but will be reviewed after 7 days.