Fight Against Eviction for Riverside Young Beef

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Please sign to petition Monmouthshire Council not to evict Riverside Young Beef and to allow them to live on site to care for their calves.

Judi James lives in Monmouthshire with her son Jason. Judi has been high welfare calf rearing since 2008, (RSPCA and Farm Assured Red Tractor accredited). Having been very concerned about the plight of male dairy bull calves in the dairy industry which are shot in large numbers (up to 100,000 per year currently) because they have little commercial beef value being small, Judi began taking these calves and rearing them. She carefully developed a system which was as natural as possible, where the calves can run free outside, eat grass, and enjoy over a year of a happy life. This became Judi's business: Riverside Young Beef. The calves are neither dehorned, nor castrated and are given the highest standard of welfare. This Judi set up on her own alongside working for a farmer caring for a nature reserve, Longhorn Cattle and arable land. Judi's hard work and determination whilst being a single Mum, won her the title of 'UK Worker of the Year 2013.' 

Judi and Jason relocated to Monmouthshire in 2016. After several years experience of living off site and trying to care for her baby calves, it quickly became apparent that this compromised their welfare. Judi takes on all of the responsibilities for rearing her calves. Calves can get sick within two hours and their boisterous play can result in accidents, giving a definite need to be on site to save calves from becoming injured or to administer veterinary care. Judi's search for the perfect holding culminated in finding one that already had full planning permission for the perfect cattle barn. Not being hardy, the calves will have a beautiful new barn for shelter in winter, and large plastic mobile shelters when grazing in summer.

Judi has put everything she has worked for into this project. Using the expert services of an Agricultural Consultant, she spent over a year providing detailed information about the business plan, proof of her own expertise to the council, and went through a stringent agricultural appraisal, working a 7 day week to pull the plans to fruition. She cares passionately about these animals, and her son’s farming future; he is an award winning Agricultural Student, and past Deputy Head Boy for a farm school in Somerset. Judi and Jason have gone without any luxuries, and Judi has had no restful holidays since 2001 which Judi and Jason accept is necessary to reach their goals. Happily, Monmouthshire Council recommended approval for them to live on site on financial and functional need grounds, after employing their own agricultural consultant to appraise the plan. The business plan clearly showed the need for a temporary agricultural workers dwelling. This allows three years for them to prove the business is viable, whilst being able to properly care for the baby calves by being available 24 hours a day.

Regrettably some locals have started a campaign to cause Judi and Jason to be evicted, largely due to a new holiday business nearby. Despite satisfying all requirements set by Council Planning, the opposition managed to get the approval overturned by calling the decision to Committee. They have to provide good planning reasons why it must be refused. Two reasons have been put forward. But both have already been examined by Council experts and approved. This makes nonsense of the planning system as all requirements for application have been met. Judi now faces a huge bill to take this questionable decision to appeal this spring. If the appeal fails she and her son will lose their home and business, and be evicted. She owns the smallholding outright and knows these calves need on site care. Judi is at an age she will probably struggle to find work that would pay enough for a rent. She is a farmer, Jason is training to be one. Why should outsiders force them out of farming?

Because of this she has suffered behaviour designed to make her leave, intrusive actions, character assassination and multiple complaints. The mental bullying and intimidation has been unbearable. Not least an attempt to have the barn build stopped, despite it being a lawful build. It has been difficult to bear being alone, and trying to build a business, build an outlet for these largely unwanted calves, and try to establish herself in a new area. The actions described have left Judi feeling isolated and reclusive. Despite many media articles and radio interviews about her and an invitation to speak at an Agricultural College Prize-giving as an ‘Inspirational Lady Farmer’, the opposition do not want farming on a farm in the valley. Big money, city mentality and a clear lack of farming and animal welfare knowledge is going to destroy this family’s livelihood and plans.

Please help us to petition Monmouthshire Council to allow Judi and Jason to live on their own smallholding, allowing them to provide the best possible care and welfare for their calves.

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