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North Yorkshire game farmer fined over 'cruel traps'

A game farmer from Cropton in North Yorkshire has been found guilty of permitting the use of a pole trap on his farm and fined £4000 by Scarborough Magistrates.

Michael Wood, who is 68, was also ordered to pay £750 court costs and a £120 victim surcharge, following the use of covert surveillance by RSPB Investigations Unit staff.

Two members of Mr Wood’s staff had previously been cautioned by North Yorkshire Police for the use of five pole traps on the farm.

Magistrates ruled it was “inconceivable” that Mr Wood would not have seen one of the pole traps being used by his staff. Westfield Farm rears pheasants and partridges for the game shooting industry.

Pole traps are a method of trapping birds that was outlawed over a hundred years ago. They consist of a steel trap placed on top of a pole that crushes the legs of any wild bird that land on them.

RSPB Investigations Officer, Howard Jones, said: “It is time that these cruel traps were consigned to the history books, but as long as they are being used we will continue to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice."

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Fiancee searching for answers over future husband's mystery death

A grieving fiancee is searching for answers over how her husband-to-be died.

Rebecca and Brett before his death in December 2014

The couple had just started planning their wedding - when Brett had a motorbike crash on a rural road in North Yorkshire, just a few weeks before Christmas. Surgerons at Leeds General Infirmary were unable to save him.

He was everything to me. For seven years we've barely spent a day apart and now I'm never going to see him again.

– Rebecca Gregory

Rebecca Gregory returned to the scene to speak about Brett's death in the hope someone can provide answers:

Huntsman found guilty of blocking badger sett

A member of the Middleton Hunt has been ordered to do 120 hours community service after he was found guilty of blocking up a badger sett at a two day trial at Scarborough magistrates court. 44-year-old Lee Martin, who's a terrierman with the Malton-based Hunt, was also ordered to pay £970 costs after he was found guilty of interfering with a badger sett near Scrayingham last March. The case was brought by the Crown Prosecution Service following an investigation by the League Against Cruel Sports.

Council considers grouse shooting ban

Grouse shooting on Ilkley Moor could be banned next week after a high profile campaign group submitted a petition to Bradford Council.

File photo of a shooting butt in Yorkshire at the start of the Grouse shooting season.

Currently the council has a ten-year agreement allowing Bingley Moor Partnership to shoot grouse until 2018, but there are calls for that deal to be ditched.

Last year a 1,000-name petition was handed in by the group who has previously organised sit-ins to disrupt shoots.

Councillors will consider whether to let the shoots continue as is, ending the agreement subject to a six-month notice period, or letting it continue but prohibiting pest control.

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Breaking news: Bailiffs move in at anti-fracking camp

Police presence at Walkington

Reports are coming in that bailiffs are removing a makeshift camp set up by anti-fracking protestors in East Yorkshire. The group has been at Crawberry Hill near Walkington since last May.

They claim the land, owned by Rathlin Energy, could be used for fracking - claims the company has always denied. Earlier this month a deadline for the protestors to leave expired. An operation to remove their base, including caravans and tents, began this morning. There are unconfirmed reports that there have been arrests.

MPs urge government to protect dairy producers

Dairy farmers need greater protection in the face of sharp falls in the price of milk, MPs have said.

A report by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee says fluctuating milk prices are driving dairy farmers out of business. Credit: Press Association

Since last summer the dairy industry has been hit by significant falls in milk prices in the face of rising supply and falling demand, particularly from China and as a result of the Russian trade ban.

The sharp reversal in fortunes, coming after prices hit their highest level for several years, has been driving dairy farmers out of business every week, with the total number in the UK falling to below 10,000 for the first time.

The parliamentary Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Efra) Committee urged the Government to extend the Groceries Code Adjudicator's (GCA) remit to include dairy farmers in the scheme, which covers suppliers to the big supermarkets and retailers.

MPs also called for ministers to help dairy farmers tap into worldwide export opportunities and press for clearer "country-of-origin" labelling so that consumers know if they really are buying British, and for an EU review of the protection against very low prices.

The committee's chairwoman Anne McIntosh said: "The volatility of worldwide and domestic milk markets is making financial planning and investment impossible for small-scale producers unable to hedge against changes beyond their control.

"The vast majority of dairy farmers fall outside the protection offered by the Groceries Code Adjudicator. She can only investigate complaints involving direct suppliers to the big 10 supermarkets and retailers, and as most milk production is small-scale, that excludes most dairy farmers. The Efra committee thought that was wrong when the GCA was set up in 2013, and events since then justify our view that her remit should be extended to include small-scale suppliers, whether or not they have a direct relationship with the ultimate seller of their produce."

She also said the committee was "shocked" to learn that the adjudicator was still unable to levy fines on retailers because the Government had not yet set the level of fine she could seek, and called for the power to be activated before the general election.

In a report on dairy prices, the MPs also called on farmers to consider forming "producer organisations" to increase their clout in the market.

A Government spokesman said: "We understand the concerns of British farmers over the current pressures on milk prices caused by the volatility of the global market and we are doing all we can to help manage this. This includes giving dairy farmers the opportunity to unite in producer organisations so they have greater clout in the marketplace. We have also brokered a dairy industry code of practice on contractual relationships to improve transparency and give farmers a fairer deal, which now covers 85% of UK dairy production."

He added that it was important to remember that the long-term prospects for the dairy industry were good.

"We are helping the dairy industry to take advantage of opportunities such as opening new export markets and pushing for better country of origin labelling for British dairy products. We strongly support the work of the Groceries Code Adjudicator. Its jurisdiction is currently limited to the scope of the Groceries Supply Code of Practice, and does not cover pricing - which is the responsibility of the Competition and Markets Authority. There will be a statutory review of the GCA next year."

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