The New Year offers us opportunities to get up and out and make a difference to our lives, families, communities, and businesses.
It is disappointing to hear farming leaders being so negative. The President of the NFU regularly complains about trade deals, Brexit, inadequate financial support for farmers, the PM, and his ministers. NFU Presidents do their best, but I sometimes wonder if they should not stick to farming and leave politics to others!
Except for pig farmers, and isolated tenant farmers, we are mostly doing ok. The high cost of fertilizer is of course concerning, and fuel and feed costs have risen too. Other industries are also struggling; difficulties sourcing parts, the cost of building materials have gone through the roof, as so too has the cost of living for families.
On the plus side most dairy farmers are getting a better deal for their milk. Beef and lamb producers are receiving higher prices, and it is encouraging that the public are learning that buying local is better for the environment and supports British farmers. They are also becoming aware that our basic food cannot continue to be subsidised by the taxpayer.
Many are concerned that farmers are being encouraged to ‘rewild’ the countryside and cut back on food production. New Local Nature Recovery and Landscape Recovery schemes will be explained by George Eustice at the Oxford Farming Conferences this week. Unfortunately, commercial companies, some foreign, are already buying up vast acreages of productive farmland to offset carbon emissions.
There is a place for everything, and Knepp Estate, now featuring on these pages, is an interesting example of transforming farmland into a wildlife wilderness.
Farmers are the first to ensure the countryside plays its part in protecting and supporting nature; highlighting the benefits farming bring to negate Climate Change, and recognizing that it is our job to feed the nation, and generally be responsible for the heritage we are entrusted with.
Yes, there is poor land which will lend itself to wild bee meadows, restoring wetlands and host plantations of trees. But, if the aim is to ensure our small island can sustain its growing population by producing healthy, high-quality food, and keep the shelves filled, then farmers should be encouraged to do that too.
There is so much to be positive about as we enter 2022. The UK economy is on course to outpace all other G7 nations for the second year running. And London has retained its crown as the top Stock Exchange in Europe.
Employment is up, and those unable to work have access to free health care, travel costs, school meals, and discounted childcare. They get reduced council tax and capped water bills, £140 off fuel bills and extra help paying rent, and more.
The numbers of unemployed continues to fall, and those fit to work are increasingly aware that rather than sit around waiting for taxpayer’s handouts, they can access job opportunities, work experiences, and further education to enhance income prospects.
It is encouraging to see people taking back control of their lives, making the right choices, earning their own money, and deciding how, where, and when to spend it.
This time last year I highlighted the exceptional numbers being vaccinated, the British Bull Dog Spirit, the relief of having left the EU, the rise in red meat sales, and how good it was to see farming attracting young entrepreneurs such as William Banham. Little has changed except things are even better.
Covid is on the run, Boris held his nerve and trusted the public to do the right thing and take responsibility. Fewer Covid related patients are in hospital, and the numbers dying are well below the national average for this time of year. Things are looking up – Happy New Year!