We have been tested to the limits, and had to be resourceful and patient. As well as the challenging weather, there were distractions such as the General Election, and what a fiasco that turned out to be. The only good thing was that Miss Nicola Sturgeon was knocked off her self-appointed pedestal, and little has been heard of her since, except for the occasional bleat about Brexit.
We have also had to cope with yet another Secretary of State for DEFRA. Another minister who obviously had never set foot on a farm before his appointment.
It has been depressing watching the political environmentalists and greens circling their prey. They swatted away anyone who wished to enlighten Mr Gove as to who actually cares for the countryside, feeds the nation sustainably, understands about the importance of protecting soil and wildlife, and caring to the highest standard in the world for our livestock.
And no, we are not a bunch of straw chewing Hilly Billies, ancient, thick and out of touch, farming with a dog and a sticks.
Agriculture is already high tech, innovative and pushes boundaries. We ensure that we keep up to date with the latest research. Our barns contain tractors and combines with satellite navigation, and highly advanced equipment.
Soon big tractors will be replaced with self-propelled autonomous implements, or with robotic equipment for other specific tasks on the farm. As Goldman Sachs has predicted, farm technologies could become a $240 billion market opportunity for agricultural suppliers, with smaller driverless tractors a $45 billion market on its own.
Farming is a challenging, highly technical, motivating and all-consuming vocation.
There are exciting times ahead as great opportunities emerge as Britain takes back control of its farming policy, as soon as we leave the EU in March 2019.
Getting back to Mr Gove, I hope he will stop listen to the politically motivated bandwagon using false facts to influence politicians to make wrong decisions regarding the use of neonicotinoids.
They are wrong to say that bees are dying due to neonics. They quote that in 1970 there were 5 million hives in the USA and now there are 2.6 million. This reduction in hives is not due to pesticides, it is from social economics. Sugar is cheaper, there are less farmers, and bee keeping is hard work, with little reward. As has been said, “We don’t have a crises of missing bees, we have missing beekeepers!”
Also, our farmers are now so efficient that less than 1% of us are actually involved in farming, and that leads to a lot of ignorance amongst the general public. Unfortunately many are taking advantage and misleading the public for politically motivated reasons.
No one can say that chemicals are good for bees and wildlife, but neonics which coat the seed, as opposed to a cocktail of chemicals sprays on the growing crop, is far less damaging to bees.
The neonics are “systemic”, it is in the plant as it grows. When the plant is small it is strong when vulnerable to underground bugs and diseases. As the plant grows, and is exposed to the sunlight, the level is much diluted. By the time the plants are flowering, chemical levels are tiny, and most bee keepers will tell you, their bees are unaffected.
Petrol is bad for bees and we use it every day, and so are 1000s of other things. Modern farming and neonics are a huge improvement over the old ways. They are a quantum leap in targeted technology, and gentle on wildlife.
Mr Gove and his colleagues need to read through the science, and not listen to the fear mongering. Fear is not our friend, information is.
Happy New Year.