Our way of life is at risk

Writers Posted 11/08/17
These are strange times we are living in.

Thirteen months ago the country had just voted to leave the European Union and, with a stable, strong, well supported government, things looked pretty positive. Now a year further on, after a rather poorly managed election, we are in a hell of a mess.

We have the clear threat of an extreme left/communist inclined government, lead by a man who quite clearly couldn’t run the proverbial piss up in a brewery, having had his strings pulled by extreme and dangerous trouble makers. This is threatening the future of all established management, companies and communities. The way of life developed in all our lifetimes is at great potential risk.

It is all based on their left wing lies, lapped up by the young generation of voters being taken in by politicians who promise them the earth in exchange for their votes against all logic and common sense. Where do they think the money is going to come from to fund their promises? It simply isn’t there, and would lead us, as a country, into the economic state of countries such as Zimbabwe and to a lesser extent Greece.

So this is the situation independent business people such as farmers face as they try to plan for the future of their businesses and their staff. All the while with earnings driven down to levels not seen since the late 1970s, or perhaps even before.

Some niche producers may be secure, for the moment, yet the countryside depends on its basic producers of cereals, milk, beef and sheep and vegetables to be able to support farms, families and its rural businesses. Presently the prospects of things improving to a level that gives us all some security – let alone returning us to the profitability we really need and are prepared to invest for the future – is simply missing.

Fruit and vegetable growers face an acute staff shortage which will doubtless leave produce to rot in the fields and many cereal and milk producers receive prices which don’t cover production costs. Confidence is ebbing across the country.

Yet while all this builds up, farmers have to plan ahead. As this goes to print, cereals are flooding into grain stores and have to find homes. Land has to be prepared for next year’s crops or, quite likely, simply left uncultivated as a viable option to losing money next season, since the basic payment scheme, still guaranteed for a couple more years, offers a known return.

All this is a result of the rather complacent view of Mrs May who appeared so sure of a thumping majority on the basis of much fake news put out by the media. She took that fateful decision which has effectively created a potential disaster. Seldom in peacetime have the whole country’s prospects been placed in such jeopardy.

Meanwhile farming life has to carry on. Calving starts and all our stock have to be cared for as in the past, as if they are all going to be of value as they grow. They have to be treated by vets if they are poorly, fed the best food and everything has to continue as normal.

We have yet another Deathra minister, clearly a very intelligent man but, one fears, a man who will be looking out for self promotion and sod the farmers. What Owen Peterson has done to be shunned one has no idea. But, if ever this industry needed a real leader it’s now – and yet he is constantly passed over.

We have had a very busy couple of months, making more than enough clamped and wrapped grass silage, organising contractors to spray maize and meadows in very unsuitable and windy conditions, topping all the grazing land and spending money almost regardless of the return on it. Now we have to take in straw for winter bedding.

On a happy note our barn owls are back after going missing for the past two or three years. They came back then to an ancient flint barn they had used beyond living memory, reared two owlets and filled the local residents with considerable joy as they quartered the nearby meadows for food. Then a new neighbour moved in whose two cats dislodged the owls. For the past two years we have had very fleeting sightings but now, as twilight becomes darkness hardly a minute is without their ghostly presence as they glide silently through the gardens and trees around the farmhouse.

I cannot tell you the therapeutic effect sightings of these beautiful creatures have on us few locals lucky enough to have them as companions, particularly at the end of days filled with the sort of concerns described above.

We had a bit of exciting news last month as we were told we had received a special commendation in the category of Scotland’s finest woods awards from the Forestry Commission in Scotland for our relatively new forestry plantation up in Argyll. Ours have been in now for about six years and, as I have reported here before, we thought the growth was extraordinary. So did the judges although, in the end, it didn’t win. But we were given this commendation and the offer of a lunch for two at a ceremony during the Royal Highland Show in June. As it happened we were unable to attend but it was quite a thrill and a great reflection on the efforts of our forestry agents, Scottish Woodlands of Perth, who had our meal!

Were the clock to be set back I would have no hesitation in diverting funds from our traditional cropping and livestock into the ancient practise of forestry. It is well supported, particulary by the Scottish government, as they seek to encourage the planting of many extra thousands of acres, with trees for the future. Trees don’t get out at night, don’t need labour every day or huge money spent on feed.

Give it a look?


Tweets from @southeastfarmer