Falklands : Agricultural Advisory Committee News (03/08/06)
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 13.03.2006 (Article Archived on 27.03.2006)
Find out what happened at this vital Committee Meeting.
COMMITTEE NEWS: AGRICULTURAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE (03/08/06)
By J. Brock (FINN)
A meeting of the Agricultural Advisory Committee took place in the library at the Department of Agriculture at 1400hrs on Wednesday, 08 March 2006. Present were Cllr. Ian Hansen (Chairman), Cllr. Richard Stevens, Phyl Rendell (Department Head), Mr. Steve Pointing (Acting Senior Vet) Mr. Neil Judd (Agricultural Advisor), Mrs. Anne Robertson (Independent Farmer) and Ms Glynis King (Secretary). Apologies came from Justin Knight, Jimmy Forrester and Vic Epstein.
After confirmation of the minutes of the meeting held on 05 December 2005, matters arising from those minutes were discussed. This was followed by the Director of Agriculture and Minerals Report. Mrs. Rendell stated that December was a wet and cold month and progress was slowed. Things improved in January that took off with warm and wet weather. A full report about the successes and failures of the season will be presented during Farmers’ Week.
An emphasis then was put on grassland management. How well a farm is managed means money into farmers’ accounts.
At the moment we are in the middle of the AI and ET Programme. It is time to use budgeted money to improve farm genetics. A paper will be published to discuss progress and training. Henry Lunt from South Africa will be arriving on Saturday, 18 March. He will be offering a sheep selection workshop on both the west and east. Richard Stevens mentioned that this was a good time for the workshops as the shearing season was tailing off and farmers had more time to attend.
Next week there will be a sale of National Stud Flock Rams at the Goose Green shearing shed. It should be a good day out with rams being collected by the Tamar and deposited at Port Howard. The Port Howard Farm is thanked for collecting the sheep from the Tamar and keeping them until collected.
The Veterinary Department confirmed two Hydatid Cysts from different farms at the Abattoir. Phyl Rendell said that the Hydatid eradication programme was on-going for 25 years now and we still can’t seem to get rid of it. The samples were sent to a lab in the UK. There will be a visit to experts in Cambridge for consultation. Steve Pointing said that as a matter of course the intestines, liver and kidneys of sheep were inspected for a range of diseases after slaughter. Mr Pointing has visited SAAD in Chile, DEFRA in the United Kingdom and the EU Veterinary Office in Brussels for advice.
Agricultural training is available and this year Sam Davies, Clynt Short and Kimberly Steen were in the programme. Anne Robertson asked if any farms wanted to host the trainees and Ian Hansen mentioned that Farmers wanting trainees could offer board and keep. Mrs Rendell said that the experience was worth it with Anne Robertson adding that trainees learn at this stage how to do it right and not to do things wrong. Neil Judd said that the programme builds on work experience and would encourage young people.
The use of PIP funds at the Saladero Ram Sale was discussed. Farmers not on the programme managed to have the first pick while those on the PIP programme got what was left over. All farmers are invited to come aling to the sale at Saladero but PIP funds should not be used by those on the programme to buy any sheep. They can use their own money for the first round and Pip funds on what’s left over. There was discussion on whether this was fair but according to Neil Judd, Farmers could use PIP funds and come home with more animals.
The proposed PIP priorities for 2006/07 were specifically for sheep and cattle nutrition. An attempt to focus in on fattening Weathers and Ewes would improve reproduction, decrease ewe mortality and increase the value of the wool.
The propagation of Elite National Stud Flock Polwarth Sheep in 2006 brought a long discussion about whether Polwarth Sheep produced value for money and whether genetic material from a different breed of ram should be used to produce better wool. It was suggested if 2,000 rams were going to be used then 1,000 should be Polwarths and 1,000 from other breeds. Polwarth were the main stock but it took a long time to convince farmers to switch to the breed in the first place and many years to build up the flocks throughout the Islands. Many farmers were satisfied with the wool quality and did not want to change the genetic make-hp of their stock. Cllr Hansen said that the objectors needed to be heard but farmers needed to assess whether it was right for them as it was not good to change the plan every year or so. It was noted at this stage that the FLH Board did not want to release the required number of ewes to the Department of Agriculture for AI and ET.
A letter from Malcolm Ashworth about PIP and winter feed brought some discussion and it was decided that the valid points in Mr. Ashworth’s letter had no scientific back-up and that it had to be looked into with a view to getting objective comments from Farmers and assessing the winter feed issue further.
The Department of Agriculture Budget has been operating on under £1Million. There were two areas where the money was spent. One area was for the day to day running of the Department and the other money was spent on the larger projects like research and equipment. Phyl Rendell said that if there is any unspent money then it should not be used and further said she felt the Department shouldn’t be holding on to money they didn’t use.
Animal welfare issues were touched upon with dog kennels a focus of the discussion. There needs to be a code of practice about animal welfare and perhaps some education of farmers about it.
A long discussion about the leave taken by Agricultural Department staff brought discussion about modern communications making it seem as if an absent person were at the Department. It was felt that leave should be taken when the staff member needed it rather than having to wait for a certain time of the year.
The date of the next meeting would be Thursday, 18 May 2006 at 0900 in the Library at the Agricultural Department.