THE weather is still being very considerate for us farmers; this must be one of the mildest and driest autumns for years.

It's been a real saviour to those who are short of forage and straw for bedding being able to keep stock outside in the fields.

Foot and mouth disease seems to be waning now, with more and more counties being given the all clear. It has certainly been an uphill struggle with all the extra paperwork and hassle due to licensing procedures for the movement of animals.

Licensing is still with us, I'm afraid, and I can foresee the system staying in place for a long time yet. No legislation is ever reduced in our job, just more added on. Farmers these days spend more time in the office under heaps of paperwork than out on the farm doing the job.

The Winning Ways Conference, run by the CLA and NFU in Hereford, seemed to be well attended - 60 in all. The object of it was to draw ideas and initiatives from farmers in an attempt to see a way forward for the industry.

One thing that did strike me that day was that we farmers are beginning to realise we must change our mind set and help ourselves out of the financial depression we are in by looking at ways to co-operate with each other in the marketing and processing of our products. This is a big step for many as traditionally farmers are noted for their independent nature.

We need to increase our share of the return on the finished product and get much closer to the end consumer. It seems somewhat one-sided that a bullock that I sell for £450 fetches over £1,500 off the supermarket shelf. No wonder the likes of Tesco can boast a billion pound profit.

I have an admiration for the executive team of any company capable of that sort of performance. Maybe we should be looking at the farming partnerships with these groups rather than moaning about the way they treat us.

I was at our local scrap yard looking for a spare part for the tractor the other day. I found what I was looking for and asked the lad in the yard how much, he replied £40.

I said the guy down the road only wanted a tenner for the same thing. "Why didn't you have it then?" he asked. "Because he didn't have one in," I said. "Oh well mine are only a tenner when I haven't got one in," he replied.

That's supply and demand I suppose!

PAUL THOMAS, Herefordshire NFU, deputy vice-chairman.