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Fox beheaded in pro-hunting warning

An investigation is underway after an image of a fox's head on a spike was posted on Facebook with this message from a pro-hunting campaigner Credit: SWNS

Police are investigating after an image of a fox's head impaled on a spike was posted on Facebook by a pro-hunting campaigner.

A man from the Hartlepool area reportedly posted the disturbing image, along with the message: "I keep my promises 1 ban = 1 fox."

"You have cost a fox that was not near a farm or any livestock its life," the man wrote, according to The Northern Echo. "Just for you. Any more bans and another fox dies."

A Cleveland Police spokeswoman said: "Police have been made aware and are following up inquiries.

"Part of our enquires would be to liaise with the RSPCA. If there has been cruelty involved, it would fall under something we would investigate."

An RSPCA spokeswoman said that it was investigating the "distressing" image, which has since been deleted from Facebook.

National Farmers' Union: Milk is now cheaper than water

The president of the National Farmers' Union has said that the price of milk has been devalued to the extent that it is now "cheaper than water".

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, he said:

This is only a symptom of what has happened in the milk industry over the last number of months ... There are very few dairy farmers making any money, most are haemorrhaging money at this present time, particularly those at 20p a litre ...

Dairy farming is seen as nearly iconic in the British countryside. We have lost 60 dairy producers in December alone ... We have halved the number of dairy farmers in the last 10 years.

– Meurig Raymond, president, nfu

First Milk delays payments to farmers amid price slump

Britain's largest dairy firm has delayed payments to farmers because of a slump in the global price of milk, its chairman has said.

Dairy farmers faced a year of unprecedented volatility in 2014, First Milks says Credit: Frank May/DPA/Press Association Images

First Milk, a co-operative owned by British farmers, said last year was a "year of volatility that has never been seen before" in the global dairy industry.

Its chairman, Conservative MP Sir Jim Paice, said it will delay today's payments to farmers by two weeks and all subsequent payments by a fortnight in order to put the business on a "stronger platform".

He added: "We are aware that hundreds of UK dairy farmers are unlikely to find a home for their milk this spring."

Read the full statement here


Senior MP 'deeply concerned' about flood defences

Public Accounts Committee chairwoman Margaret Hodge. Credit: PA Wire

The chair of the influential Public Accounts Committee has expressed "deep concern" at a report saying is not spending enough to maintain flood defences in some areas.

Responding to the report, Labour MP Margaret Hodge, said:

I am deeply concerned that current levels of spending are not enough to maintain flood protection, with five million homes at risk of flooding and people's livelihoods in jeopardy.

It is alarming that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has cut spending on flood protection by 10% between 2011-12 and 2014-15 and it had to react with an emergency bailout of £270 million following the winter floods in 2013. Surely this short-term reactive approach is not value for money in the long-term.

– Margaret Hodge
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