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Failure to act 'jeopardising food security'

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: May 08, 2013

Farmer David Horton believes ministers are not taking the Schmallenberg virus seriously enough  Picture: Lucy Blake

Farmer David Horton believes ministers are not taking the Schmallenberg virus seriously enough Picture: Lucy Blake

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Fifth generation farmer David Horton is one of many dairy farmers battling numerous challenges in the industry.

Mr Horton, whose family has farmed at Roborough, near Plymouth, since 1864, says many of his fellow herdsmen are struggling to survive due to a trio of problems: terrible weather, two big diseases, and the low prices they are being paid for their products.

"It's absolutely terrible when young, enthusiastic farmers are being forced to leave the industry and work elsewhere," he said.

Mr Horton is one of many farmers fighting for a fairer price on milk and cheese – for their livelihoods and for the future sustainability of food production. "If farmers aren't given their fair share, it'll jeopardise food security for the future," he said.

Mr Horton "welcomed" Owen Paterson's decision to call a landmark crisis meeting with farmers, as a way to tell the Government about "what's happening on the ground".

One of his major concerns is the impact of the Schmallenberg virus, which he believes ministers are not taking seriously enough. "There have been 1,200 cases of the Schmallenberg virus reported in the country, but I could find 1,200 cases of the virus at this end of Devon alone," he claims.

"It's absolutely scandalous that the Government says it's a 'no impact' disease. I've seen and heard of cattle failing to breed, losing embryos, being born physically and mentally deformed with parts of their brain missing. Adults can be affected too – getting weaker and weaker and eventually dying.

"Their failure to tackle the disease makes me mad."

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