Farmer Focus: The value of farming in a post-pandemic world

Farmers often say heavy land goes from too wet to too dry in a sunny afternoon — and so it has proved locally.

Fields have been full of farmers on tractors trying to make up for the last five months or so of inactivity.

Winter crops have yet to really flourish as colder temperatures continue, despite nutrition been applied, but establishing spring crops has been relatively easy once the dry spell proved it was here to stay rather than a flash in the pan.

Most spring barley and sugar beet has been drilled and potatoes are now being planted.

On a recent visit to a local supermarket I, like many, witnessed the best and worst of human behaviour — greed, selfishness, kindness and humility.

Annoyingly television footage of empty meat shelves in shops doesn’t seem to align with some falling farmgate prices. As John Lennon said, strange days indeed.

See also: How to manage fallow land hit by wet winter weather

It seems the pandemic may be bringing a new order to perceived job importance. Understandably, healthcare professions have jumped up to lead the league table, as they make Churchill’s quote come to life: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

But other, less obvious roles have risen up the ranks. We now realise that waste collectors, delivery drivers and shop assistants are close to the front line too.

Certainly food availability is high in everyone’s minds these days, but when all this is over, where will we land?

To my mind, people comparing food producers to NHS frontline staff are way off the mark.

NHS staff are risking their own health to care for others, while we’re just doing what we’ve done forever, producing food.

So let’s not make that comparison, but let’s hope food production and distribution will be seriously reviewed and revalued by the politicians that shape our country’s post-pandemic future.

Certainly our government is living by the mantra of the great Californian basketball coach John Wooden: “Don’t let what you can’t do interfere with what you can do.” With such a positive attitude radiating from Whitehall, there’s hope for us all!

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