Sealy, Jane (b.1952) & Andrew (b.1948)

Jane Sealy was born in Middlesex, went to school in Bracknell, Berkshire, and Chandler's Ford in Hampshire.  She trained as a legal secretary but has subsequently worked as a school secretary.  She does all the farm book keeping and helps out with milking in the school holidays.


Andrew Sealy was born in Wells, Somerset, and lived in Westbury-sub-Mendip, Somerset. He went to school in Westbury and Wells, attended college in Strode and studied general farming at Cannington Farm Institute, near Bridgwater.  He is a tenant farmer for the Church Commissioners in Westbury, with a 300-acre dairy farm, milking 140 cows together with approximately fifty followers or beef cattle.


Andrew and Jane discuss the milk quota system during the 1990s and describe the wildlife in the area.

Andrew Sealy, 2005. Andrew Sealy, 2005.
Sound File
Listen to Jane and Andrew Sealy - 1.82MB Duration 3:58 min.

AH: And if you um, produce more than you are actually are allowed to produce, what happens?


AS: Um.  If the country nationally goes over quota, we’ve been fined – there is a levy put on it, and the levy is more than you will actually get per litre for the milk so although the dairies have had the milk, they’ve processed it, they’ve sold it, they had the money, but the farmer gets penalised quite heavily. It’s only happened I think, well obviously you know, we try to match production to quota, but we personally have only been hit once, I think, since quotas came in.


This year there’s no sign that the quota is going to be exceeded.  You know we’ve been told, basically, we can produce what milk we want.  But it’s not something you can suddenly turn on and off, you know.  I mean, you can't suddenly, you know, I mean if the cows aren’t there, it wouldn’t pay you.


AS: To suddenly go out and buy a lot of cows to milk just to produce for you know, for your quota, sort of thing, because next year they probably wouldn’t want it again. So you basically go along quietly as you can.  If you are going to expand then you got to basically have the quota to match your expansion.


AH: And I know you buy quota in don’t you, if you want to expand?


AS: Yes.


AH: Is that, how does that... is that expensive or reasonable or what’s the situation, current situation today with it?


AS: The current situation is it’s quite cheap at the moment, because we’re in the situation where nationally the country is under quota and also there are signs that the quota regime is coming to an end, so quota would lose its value.  This is a political decision and you know, and it has to be taken into account as to what is going to happen in the future with quotas, I think.


Currently I think quota can be purchased for about eighteen pence, I think, per litre, but you can also lease it in for twelve months, which obviously is cheaper, but at the end of the year again you loose that quota, you know, so, a lot of people have leased in quota yearly to cover their production, but then you basically, if say for instance, you were getting eighteen pence for a litre of milk then it would pay six pence per litre to lease it so you’ve in fact gotta produce that milk for twelve pence to, you know, and you gotta show a profit on it.


AS: We’ve been told to stop cutting the hedges every year you know. You know, as far as we’re concerned as farmers, it is an expense to keep doing it every year I suppose, but it does keep the hedges tidy and personally I can’t think the flail hedge trimmers that are used now tend to cut the hedges, if they're cut every year, cut them clean, and you get a nice re-growth on the hedges, but if they’re left for two or three years then to use those machines on them is going to mutilate them.  To be honest, but, I suppose from the birds' point of view perhaps they prefer bushy hedges I don’t know.


AH: I mean, do you think there has been a decline here on your farm in wildlife over the years?


AS: I don’t think so really, I suppose we’ve got quite a traditional sort of farm we’ve get the orchards, which encourages birds.  We see far more deer now.  I never saw deer when I was young.  We’ve got lots of deer on the farm now that come and go.  There’s the badgers, foxes.


JS: Owls.


AS: Owls. Buzzards are circulating from Lodge Hill Wood up there you know, which you never saw when I was young.  I think one thing that has perhaps  changed, my own personal view from the small birds. You see far more seagulls now, which I suspect attack, you know, ground nesting birds, their eggs, rooks, these kind of things that were controlled traditionally by farmers and farm workers aren’t any more, so you get all those sorts of scavenging kinds of birds, which I think take a lot of these smaller birds eggs. I, we get, tremendous flocks of starlings, they love the maize, they're a nuisance.

Copyright Information
Copyright. This recording was made by Ann Heeley in March 2005. Photograph ©SRLM. For access to full interview please contact the Somerset Heritage Centre.