It sounds ungrateful but, let’s be honest, who hasn’t done it? Experienced that split-second of despondency on 25 December when you unwrap a present and find it’s not what you were hoping for. So no more naff sweaters or impractical household items, here are the 21 gifts that members of farming families really want to receive.
An RPA computer system that works
No excuses. No queues. No delays. Just a simple, good old-fashioned, fully-functioning IT system that lets farmers get paid what they should be paid at the time when they should be paid.
A sheep breed without a death wish
Someone could make a fortune if they bred an animal like this. Never mind attributes such as daily liveweight gain and lambing percentage, we’d just take one that doesn’t roll over on its back and go to that great big pasture in the sky with such speed and apparent glee.
A disused barn? An old shed? An extension on the house? The benevolence of the local planning officer really would be gift that could make a difference to your life.
A set of keys
Not solely the keys, obviously. We’re bundling them together with that new tractor you covet but can’t afford.
An unbreachable fence
Wouldn’t it be lovely if, just for once, fences didn’t twist, sag or collapse? If they stayed sufficiently intact so you didn’t get calls at all hours of the day (and more likely, the night) from a neighbour telling you your animals have paid them a visit?
The world’s most powerful torch
We’re talking one with a beam of light comparable to the one that comes out of a police helicopter when it’s following a stolen car. Imagine taking that around the farm at night. Strong enough to throw a diesel thief in the spotlight at 200 yards.
A whopping great penknife
Think practical. Think big. Think Rambo.
A bigger milk cheque
Surely 2016 will be a better year for dairy producers? Hopefully they will finally get a fairer price for their milk and can start planning for the future with security and confidence.
A dry August
Summer 2015 was a soggy washout for many, leaving harvest a stop-start affair. Imagine if you could be bestowed an August free from rain, when combines could roll every day.
An indestructible flask
Drop it and it bounces. Run it over and it doesn’t even dent. Dog chews it and it doesn’t crack. And if it could clean itself out, too, that would be a bonus.
Lamb back on the menu
We’re talking about the whole nation falling back in love with this beautiful and versatile meat. And not just in kebab shops on Friday and Saturday nights, either.
We don’t mean glittery Christmas labels – what we’re after is genuine, plain, easy-to-understand country-of-origin labelling. Either with or without wrapping paper, we’d take it either way.
A pay rise
Farmworkers – have a quick word with Santa. He can speak to the boss when they’re stuffed full of roasties and wine and feeling generous after Christmas lunch. What about that higher wage? It is the season of good will, after all…
Imagine if Santa could take something away as well as bringing it? Well this would be it. He’d take away the piles of paper, the hours in front of a computer and all the associated headaches. All that bureaucracy – he’d load it on to his sleigh and take it back to the North Pole.
Kerry McCarthy eating meat
If shadow Defra secretary abandoned her vegan ways it wouldn’t in itself change the fortunes of farming, but it might bring a smile to many farmers’ faces. More turkey anyone? Ham? Pigs in blankets?
An end to blackgrass
OK, the world’s top agronomists and chemical companies haven’t managed to crack this one yet, but Santa would sure be popular if he delivered a cheap, practical and effective way of dealing with the weed. He already has the wellies so should be all ready for some field-walking.
A self-cleaning kitchen floor
Mud, straw, silage, manure, bit of dead animal… you name it, it probably gets on your kitchen floor. No matter how hard you try, it’s impossible to keep clean with a procession of wellied feet stomping in and out all day.
A new shotgun
One with one of those names that makes the shooting fraternity salivate and go weak at the knees. Purdey, Holland & Holland, Boss & Co…
A properly heated house
One room like the tropics? Or the tundra? Got a boiler that has been on its last legs since 1957 but still manages to sound like an amorous whale? Imagine a central heating system that did what you wanted, when you wanted it to. Apparently, such mythical contraptions do exist.
Farmers running supermarkets
Big companies have lots of directors, many of whom are part-time and are remunerated very nicely, thank you very much. So Santa’s going to flip the coin: give farmers part-time jobs on all the boards of all the supermarkets. That will sort out their sourcing policies. And just imagine, a one-day-a-week job.
A day off
If none of the above, how about this? Fat chance!