The D word

 In Louth Times

Never intending to fit the stereotype of a whinging farmer but I think the current situation calls for some A level grade whinging! Bear with me.

As I write this in November another 46mm of rain has fallen, parts of Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire are inundated with flood water, the wettest autumn ever by a country mile.  I know many people have not started their wheat drilling programme, even on the Wolds, we are less than half way with much of that sown already spoilt. I reckon we can shut the door until spring arrives.

British agriculture is in a trough, the likes of which we have not seen for some time. To cheer you up I’ve made a list:

  • The Brexit blanket hangs over every move, a truly joyless time
  • We have an imminent election with all the main parties showing no interest whatsoever in either farming or rural affairs
  • Cattle prices are down > 25 %, paradoxically beef prices are not
  • Sugar beet prices are down, if you can lift
  • BPS payments will decline and soon disappear
  • Oilseed rape is increasingly difficult if not impossible to grow
  • Our favoured weedkiller is likely to be controlled or phased out
  • The banks are showing less enthusiasm for agriculture
  • Feed barley prices appear to have been fixed by our corporate friends, maybe nothing new!
  • As farmers, apparently, we are responsible for global warming, if you believe the cacophony of antagonistic drivel
  • And, of course we lost the rugby World Cup final!

Ladies and gentlemen, we have our own DYSTOPIAN world.  Is it any wonder everyone is so miserable and down, possibly recognising how the coal miners felt so unloved in the 1980‘s.

Enough of this Orwellian toxicology

I’ll try to make the rest of this article upbeat, encouraging and look at some positive alternatives.

Firstly, pop round to see your neighbours, they will be feeling just as grumpy as you. They might need some help or even want to team up.

Secondly, don’t forget technology. This is a good time of year for reflection , technology offers so many ways to make life easier and more productive.

Thirdly, can we be more proactive countering some of this false news and drivel?  Could we all do our bit to turn the tide? When something is wildly wrong on the radio call in, join the NFU, CLA, NBA, TFA, the bigger the voice the better

Fourthly, many farmers are making a huge success of diversification and direct marketing. Could that be for you? Or with a group ?

Fifthly, my favourite C word, carbon. Anyone remember?  I’m convinced agriculture has a huge part to play as we tackle climate change. The anti-farming sentiment will play out (anyone seen the BBC carbon figures on beef production which are wrong by a factor of five?). Agriculture needs to be ready with science, facts and statistics. Carbon trading will bring a substantial income stream if we are on the ball.

And finally, take a couple of minutes to find this on YouTube: ‘Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah, (A letter from camp)’. This is a piece of nonsense from 1965 by Alan Sherman and Lou Busch about a boy away at school and how his mood changes!


Yours sincerely,

John Smith