Sir,

Here we go again, more rules and regulations to stay within the scheme and more stress and sleepless nights for working farmers.

I am a hill farmer in my early sixties with sheep and cattle and have farmed all my life as did my father before me. If it wasn’t for my son wanting to take on the farm, I would without doubt give up farming. Like many farmers, we are sick and tired of all the rules and regulations forced upon us, the extra work and paperwork that it all involves and at the end of the day we still don’t get enough for our livestock.

The British government then opens up our market to cheap imports that are not reared and looked after to our high animal welfare standards and are not facing the same costs of production and animal welfare as in this country and then to add insult to injury, QMS gives us more rules and regulations we must follow. Why aren’t NFUS and NSA fighting to reduce red tape? I wonder at times who sits on the board that makes the decisions.

QMS tells us consumers are showing ever increasing interest on how there food is produced. Consumers at the moment are struggling to pay their heating and electric bills, fuel for their cars, mortgage payments are going up, as is everything else. If they see imported lamb or beef or pork at two-thirds of the price of British produce on the shelf, a lot of them won’t have the option but buy the cheaper cut if they want to eat meat.

Yes consumers want to eat meat that has been produced to a high standard. We have been doing that for years. Why do we need never ending rules and regulations?

I have daily contact with members of the public as we have diversified into farm tourism and they are all very impressed and surprised by the way we farm. I tell them 95% of livestock farmers are farming exactly as we are. Very few (if any) of them have ever heard of QMS. QMS should be putting more time and money into targeting the general public and educating them. In general, they have very little understanding of animal welfare and production.

I have been a member of QMS and supported it since it started and have never had any problems during inspections but I think now things have gone too far.

I know a lot of the regulations come from the government, but QMS now seem to be working as the state police. This must be wrong but we have no option but follow the rules to stay within QMS. Farmers are frightened to speak out about inspections for fear of repercussions.

There has been a lot in the press recently about farmers' mental health and well being. The pressure of the work involved (increasing almost every year) for the inspections by QMS puts a lot of pressure on farmers, often working on their own. Farmers do fall behind with their record keeping, especially at busy times and to get a call to say you are getting an inspection in two days time can be extremely worrying and stressful. Are we forgetting about the farmers in all of this?

It would be interesting to do a survey of all farmers in Scotland to find their views on this but I am quite sure the majority of them would be thinking along the same lines as myself. Would QMS listen to the results?

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