By Charles Bourns, broiler grower, Gloucestershire
The industry seems to be going through very difficult times; not only poultry but the whole of British agriculture. Our prices are coming down but our costs are staying up and in some cases rising, especially the interest rate for those of us that have invested.
The problem seems to be that the middle men in our industry are trying to recoup their costs at the expense of the agricultural sector and the retailer doesn’t seem to care about the future of British farming. I have heard two retailers say they were happy to buy from Brazil or Italy if we cannot supply them, so with this loyalty we are between a rock and a hard place.
As a farmer I feel I just have to keep my head down, do the best I can and trust I will come out the other end as it is a situation most believe will last twelve months or so as costs might have reduced as electric and other costs seem to be reducing.
The other big problem the industry faces is the continuing AI situation. It is interesting to see that the French have ordered 80 million doses of vaccine, which can be done under EU conditions. Surely we need to do the same? I am told that Defra are frightened about the surveillance costs, but I would argue that the poultry industry provides the country with value for money protein, and of course poultry does not receive subsidy. The surveillance costs might only be for one year and the bill they pay annually on the TB eradication policy would be modest.
Some industry leaders have just been to Brussels for the Copa Cogeca meeting and I found it interesting that the new transport regulation was not even discussed. We as farmers need to push back on this regulation as it was introduced by the Eurogroup for animals and at the very least will make our industry unworkable, so please lobby your local MP.
I apologise for this being a little downbeat, but it is the way most around me feel. I know we will come through it; it is just a matter of everyone doing the best they can from feed quality, chick quality and care in catching. We also need to cut out waste wherever possible.
Anyway I am off to judge some of the entries in the National Egg & Poultry Awards, which always end up inspiring me.