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A pour show as farmers get a bashing

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The Young Farmer column, by Joe Rabicano, Friday, January 17, 2020

Well I hope all readers had a very enjoyable and pleasant Christmas and New Year.

For me and many farmers in East Anglia it seemed Christmas came two days early when sheep prices at Market peaked to around the highest known for months, some say in cases the highest we’ve had for years.

The Young Farmer, by Joe Rabicano. Picture: Paul Amos FM3033353
The Young Farmer, by Joe Rabicano. Picture: Paul Amos FM3033353

As I explained in my last article there is always a price peak at Christmas, at a time when there is a greater desire for prime cuts of meat, but I think the credit for this year’s exceptionally high prices really goes to Brexit. Uncertainty I believe led to people getting shot of lambs early, probably a bit small.

Meaning now there is something of a shortage, so without wanting to get too political don’t let anyone say Brexit hasn’t done a single good thing for farmers.

Hopefully fairly soon we’ll know what the long term effect is likely to be.

Farmers really needed that little pick-me-up at Christmas. I won’t drone on about how animals still need feeding and checking on Christmas Day, how livestock farming is a 365-day-a-year job, as plenty of industries also work over Christmas. Rather farmers needed something of a pick me up due to the horrendous weather that continues to persist, the effects of which I think are going to be relatively long lasting.

Still now, as I write this actually, it continues to rain in huge quantities.

Whereas before it was a case of not being able to do any work on the land due to it being too wet, flooding now becomes more of a concern as ditches, drains and culverts become blocked and water backs up onto fields.

Standing water, even on a undrilled, currently unused field can be a nightmare, as the weight of the water leads to soil compression, nutrients washing away and good essential bacteria in the soil being killed due to lack of oxygen.

I myself have been attempting to shift some water but with very little success.

On top of this, there appears to have been a sudden rise once again in the anti-livestock farming, animal rights movement.

‘How to Steal Pigs’ appeared on Channel 4 a couple of nights ago, enraging farmers and promoting radical activists that feel invading people’s property and threatening hard working farming families is acceptable.

On an almost daily basis articles appear in the papers on how meat production is destroying the planet and it would be a lie to say this isn’t having an effect on British farmers, who in all honesty feel hounded at a time when they are already down. I personally still believe this is simply a phase, largely promoted by my own generation, that farmers along with the Government still need to fight sensibly until it passes.

The media though certainly isn’t making it easy and the farming groups at the top end of the industry seem too scared to put their heads above the parapet.

It seems responsibility is falling to lone individuals to defend farming, which with the best will in the world is never going to work and potentially puts those brave people in a risky situation they shouldn’t have to be in.

Large farming organisations, to whom we all pay suitably large subscriptions, really must pull themselves together before it’s too late.

These worries of British farmers are naturally nothing compared to what farmers are experiencing in Australia, though. Once again it’s fantastic to see British farmers putting aside their own troubles to offer hemp to Australian counterparts – national and international farming camaraderie, and which is even more special to be a part of.

I’m humbled by what I see on the news and find it really puts into perspective how lucky I am and how lucky many British farmers are, even with our struggles.

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