Dig a little deeper and you will find they would also like to be recognised for the benefits they contribute to the country by producing quality food to high environmental, animal welfare and social standards. These include as George Dunn, chief executive of the Tenant Farming Association, said: “Supporting landscape diversity, flood risk management; clean water; clean air; renewable energy; controlled access to the countryside; carbon storage; and providing the vital backdrop to our important tourism industry.”
No doubt all of the above will be conveyed to whoever ends up with the Defra portfolio, following the reshuffle promised this week. I hope the Minister will also be made aware as to how vital it is to invest in small local abattoirs ensuring they are fit to process livestock for export as well as the home market. The cost of upgrading infrastructure to ensure they comply with rigorous certification requires considerable investment, without which we cannot export our beef to ready markets, such as Singapore.
Investment must be directed towards Research and Development to ensure technology in mechanisation, disease and pest control, and animal health and production, are at the cutting edge. And finally and most importantly the scrapping of the current 30 month beef legislation, which is now well overdue.
Christmas is a time for families and friends. A time perhaps to reflect on the past year and make plans for the New Year. It is also a time to recognise that not everyone is as fortunate as we are, as many who live in our communities are alone, rarely leave their home and are often isolated and lonely.
We manage to scoop up some of these folk and invite them to the Wivelsfield Better Together Christmas Day Lunch, now in its eleventh year. Unfortunately we recognise that despite putting out the message that we welcome anyone from our local district, including Haywards Heath, Burgess Hill, Lindfield, Cuckfield, Ardingly, Ditchling and Hurstpierpoint, we are not reaching everyone.
I am sure that families who gather together for their Christmas festivities will include their neighbours and individuals in their communities, who are known to be alone.
By reaching out and inviting those who are home alone, we can all make a huge difference. Several of our regular guests tell us that Christmas Day is the only day of the year when they actually sit down in company for a meal, and it is the highlight of their year. A sad reflection upon today’s society.
The problem of rough sleepers and the homeless is not just a British phenomenon. The World’s Big Sleep Out which took place recently, was not confined to Trafalgar Square where hundreds slept out in the pouring rain. Over 60,000 people slept out in cities across the world including: Edinburgh, Cardiff, Dublin, New York, LA and Brisbane, to raise money and awareness for homeless charities. The aim was to shine a spot light on this escalating international and unacceptable problem.
There are plenty of charities working night and day doing their best to support homeless families and individuals, but despite their efforts the problem is growing. The best way to help is to get these people into education and work, and for some ensure they receive proper medical support, in particular those with mental health issues.
I was greatly encouraged to hear that the number of ex-service personnel ending up on the streets has notably declined. It seems the military are now taking better care of their own.
I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas, and a very Happy New Year.