The rain has been relentless and now the fields are sodden, and will take time to dry before it is possible to create a decent seed bed.
Let us hope the promised ‘Indian Summer’, predicted to start next weekend, turns out to be a reality.
The Laughton and District Agricultural Society’s Ploughing Match was a casualty of last weeks’ torrential rain. The Match was cancelled as the ground at Mays Farm, Selmeston was water logged. A great shame as this would have been the 85th match, and one which is enjoyed by participants and the farming community, and is always well attended by the general public.
However, the weather did not curb the enthusiasm of the Society for holding their annual dinner that evening. As usual it was held in the grounds of Glyndebourne, in the Mildmay Hall.
The President of the NFU (National Farming Union) Meurig Raymond was guest speaker. He farms 3,500 acres in Pembrokeshire with his twin brother, where they grow cereal crops and potatoes.
When Meurig was elected as President, he said, “We need to convince the policy makers, retailers, consumers and society of the importance of food production and British farming, and that we, as farmers, can help to grow the rural economy.”
British agriculture is facing unprecedented financial difficulties where no sector has been spared. We are having to weather the ‘perfect storm’, with the downturn in the Chinese economy, President Putin putting an embargo on European produce, and to top it all there is now a world surplus of food commodities, and here the strength of the £ is not helping exports.
Farmers are struggling to keep afloat with below the cost of production income across the board. However, the NFU President was quietly confident that British farmers will weather this storm as long as it does not continue for too long, and as long as the policy makers and politicians listen to the farming community
He confirmed what we all know to be true; that it is farmers who have created and nurtured our beautiful countryside. They know how to care for it and use it to the best advantage for food production, the environment and the enjoyment of the public.
How long we must wait for an upturn in our fortunes is out of our hands, and it is possible we must wait for some catastrophe somewhere around the globe, but hope it is not here, to cause farm commodity prices to rise.
As he travels across the country Meurig has been heartened to see many young people taking up carers in agriculture. Not only those who have been bred on the land but others from different walks of life who have recognised the potential for a successful career in this profession. The statistics which now give the average age of farmers as 59, he believes do not reflect the true picture.
British agriculture is dynamic, innovative and has a wide and diverse variety of opportunities. These range from engineering, science - both livestock and arable - including horticulture, as well as giving the satisfaction of working on the land. To experience the results of one’s toils bearing fruit by growing and producing the commodities to feed the nation and beyond, is remarkably rewarding.
There are still further Ploughing Matches in the diary, including the Hurstpierpoint & District Agricultural Association’s 110th Ploughing Match and Show. This will take place on Saturday 3rd October at Trusslers Hill Farm, Blackstone Lane, Henfield, by kind permission of the Allen Family & Sentry Farms.
These events offer a wonderful opportunity to see conventional, vintage and horse ploughing, at their best and at close hand. Also, to watch the hedge laying competition where contestants expertly lay a section of hedge which are later judged to find the best.
There is cookery, handicrafts, flowers and a novelty dog show – something for everyone, and a good day out for the family while showing support for your local agricultural community.
The airwaves and national newspapers are awash with extracts from Lord Ashcroft’s unofficial biography on David Cameron. It will be interesting to see if the Prime Minister is damaged by this book which is being serialised in the Daily Mail.
Michael Ashcroft who has given over £8 million to the conservative party, and laid the foundations for the party’s electoral success in May, having previously helped David Cameron become PM back in 2010, is not a person to be trifled with.
It would appear Mr Cameron made a huge mistake when he turned his back on Lord Ashcroft following the 2010 election, and reneged on his promise made to the peer to offer him a ‘not insignificant’ job, if he was elected.
Lord Ashcroft is a man of principles, a passionate conservative and campaigner, a true patriot and a man of his word. I am uncertain why he would waste his time writing ‘Call me Dave’, a biography of a man questionably devoid of political principles, and arguably perhaps not even a true Tory.
If this book had been written by anyone other than Michael Ashcroft it would not be taken seriously. In the circumstances, David Cameron may well suffer a few sleepless nights.