One of several meetings I Zoomed into last week was the West Sussex NFU AGM. The guest speaker was Stuart Roberts, Deputy President of the NFU, an arable and livestock farmer from Hertfordshire. He has in the past worked for both Defra and the Food Standards Agency. His awareness of local issues was impressive, and his general positivity encouraging.
The reoccurring theme from start to finish, was acknowledging the support the farming community is receiving from the general public. Examples were raised where they have shown genuine support for the farming and rural community.
Rural crime is a point in case, where the public are increasingly keeping their eyes open, and report instances they judge unusual.
Sussex police are making a significant difference through the dedicated rural crime team which works closely with rural communities, farmers and wildlife conservationists. They respond quickly when alerted to incidents, suspicious vehicles, vandalism and robberies.
The rising theft of farm livestock, working dogs and family pets has shocked everyone. Dogs and puppies have been snatched at knife point, by criminals who are ruthless and cruel; having little regard for their victim’s life or wellbeing.
It is vital for everyone to be alert and report anything unusual or unlawful. If urgent dial 999. If less so but a concerning rural matter, send an email with details to: firstname.lastname@example.org;
The Rural Team are quick to respond as happened last week when the holding pens at Ote Hall were vandalised, and around 30 partridges removed, but evidently not before having their necks wrung!
The Pandemic and resulting lock down has increased the public’s awareness and appreciation of the countryside on their doorsteps. Clearly they recognise the benefits farming brings to the community, as we produce food in harmony with nature and the rural environment, not in conflict with it.
Most farmers have been doing so for decades. However, following the introduction of the Agriculture Bill, change is in the air for the farms which were encouraged by governments during the 1960s and 70s, to bring into production every corner of their farms. This involved ripping out hedges and filling in ditches as they strove to maximise output from every last inch. Today they no longer fit the government’s required credentials for sustainable farming.
There is a lack of judgement and understanding amongst some conservative MPs. Their criticism of the Prime Minister as he takes steps to keep the country safe, is increasingly misjudged.
Anyone would think Boris was enjoying watching the country’s finances and businesses crumble beneath the weight of this ghastly pandemic. Instead of ill-informed criticism, they would do better to support his efforts to save lives and the NHS.
As ever the BBC promotes the critics, and regularly pulls the plug on any medical expert or scientist who dares to support the PM’s actions.
One has to wonder if doctors and nurses working in the front line, have been consulted by these ‘angry’ conservative MPs. If they had they would already know the NHS is acutely understaffed. 1922 chairman Graham Brady speaking on question time, was clearly out of touch. He and others have suggested opening up Nightingale hospitals, obviously believing the NHS had a vast army of surplus nurses.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Even across Sussex hospitals, wards and A & E departments are regularly short staffed. Over 12hr shifts nurses frequently work with only 60% of their team.
Do these MPs really believe the NHS has capacity to staff Nightingale Hospitals, as well as care for cancer patients and others, when Covid cases inevitably spike? I don’t think so.