Many have been stripped of everything including their entire herds and crops, as over 100,000 livestock have been killed to date, by the flames, heat stress or smoke inhalation.
Farmers, with a few exceptions, put the welfare of their livestock above all else. They are resilient, have oodles of common sense and their work ethic is awesome. However, there is only so much even the toughest of farmers can take before the cracks begin to show. Life for many will never be the same, they are bound to emerge from this catastrophe diminished and vulnerable.
Many British farmers can sympathise as they faced similar experiences as they watched as not only their life’s work but their treasured, valuable and healthy livestock were executed and buried beneath huge funeral pyres, and covered in quick lime to prevent contamination, during the Foot & Mouth outbreak.
As the UK faces some uncertainty as we depart the European Union, we wait for the government to produce the final version of the Agricultural Bill. I doubt that whatever emerges following Brexit, it will not be half as bad as what our fellow Australian farmers now face in years to come. In fact I would wager the opportunities which Brexit will deliver will boost the economy and British agriculture will be a major beneficiary.
But still the doom and gloom mongers, many of whom were very vocal at the Oxford Farming Conference, and Oxford Real Farming Conference last week, would have us believe that Brexit will lead us to Armageddon.
The annual Oxford Farming Conferences always produce some good headlines and this year was no exception. Unsurprisingly many of the speakers had much to say about the growth in veganism and plant based diets.
One could be led to believe that the majority of the population had already given up meat, and we will spend the rest of our lives eating laboratory produced protein, with some dodgy greens on the side, which will have been grown in city centre skyscrapers.
Today there are indeed 3.5million vegans in the UK, an impressive number of brave individuals who have embraced this alternative life style and are clearly unconcerned about the consequences. There are however still 66.5million of us who continue to eat meat and dairy produce along with our fruit and veg, in a well-balanced and healthy diet.
George Monbiot was as usual prophesising the end of farming, just as he did recently in Channel 4’s documentary ‘Apocalypse Cow’, along with their chums from The Meatless Farm Company.
Mr Monbiot advocates the re-wilding of the countryside, and growing electric protein from bacteria and hydrogen in factories, from thin air. But it should be asked, how are future humans going to get their daily intake of iron, zinc and other minerals if their food has had no connection with the soil? And how can we be sure these Frankenstein foods will be safe to eat? And if they are safe, will anybody really want to buy them?
Are people like George Monbiot and those running the Meatless Farm Company, who sell fake meats and plant-based products which generate trillions of pounds, actually brainwashing the consumer?
At a time when farmer suicides are at an all-time high and there are some very vulnerable farming families worried sick by the constant attacks on their livelihoods, perhaps January is a good time for UK farming and the meat sector to “set the record straight”, and remind consumers about the genuine benefits of meat and dairy at the heart of a healthy balanced diet.