With Christmas just around the corner and families everywhere starting to prepare for the festivities, it is worth taking a moment to consider the farming community. For livestock and dairy farmers, there is no day off work, just because it is holiday season. Many of us wish for a “White Christmas” but even if there is no snow on the ground, the livestock still need to tended, sheep and cattle fed and the dairy industry keeps milking.
- If the weather is bad, then quite simply, the jobs take longer
- Frozen pipes need to be defrosted to get water to the animals
- Livestock, whether housed or in the fields, will need feed
- If there are pedigree ewes, then lambing season is about to begin
- Add to this, fields becoming saturated by the melting snow will be a real worry for farmers sowing spring crops in the New Year
- Winter crops can also suffer, with the plant roots drowning in the sitting water and the hoped-for income the following harvest being washed away before their eyes
- There are fewer daylight hours to carry out routine jobs, maintenance or repairs
- Farmers are working in atrocious weather, icy winds, driving rain or snow
- Unlike the general public, they can’t just stop when the weather turns nasty – they still have to continue with their most important job of feeding the nation
- Wheat and barley prices are at a low, milk quotas were removed earlier in the year
- Prices being paid for beef, sheep and pork are falling weekly
- There is no firm date set for receiving the Single Farm Payment – normally paid in December
- With this in mind, is it any wonder that farmers often do not feel like celebrating?
- The winter months also afford the opportunity for those involved in the land to attend various seminars and winter shows and to hear what’s new within the sector, both locally and nationally
- The main topics being discussed were current legislation proposals, including
- the Land Reform Act
- Agricultural Holdings Legislation
- the Wildlife Protection Laws
- Buying Systems used in other parts of the country
Such events allow a welcome break and provide an opportunity to meet with others.
Farming can be an isolated way of life at best and at this time of year especially, there may not much to smile about. Charities such as RSABI and Gatepost have recognised the situation within the agricultural sector and are there to help and support where and when they can.
With all of this in mind, we wish you a Happy Christmas and although things may not always be merry and bright, we hope the New Year brings some respite to the current situation.
Any comments or questions? Please contact Jean Arnott-Glennie on 07881 093485 or email [email protected]