FARMERS FOCUS: Mobile signal debate continues

I have obviously touched a nerve with my comments in my last column about the state of the mobile phone signal in this country.

Not only were people at the Royal Highland Show last week agreeing with me that it has got worse, Jon from Oxfordshire (a place I thought was in the middle of a developed country) and Alan from up near Inverness are having similar grief with their suppliers.

It seems that none of the networks are any better than the other and they are all out to rip us off as best they can. I think it’s worth sending a text or an email using your smart-phone to your MP. Oh I forgot, we can’t do that, let’s use a pigeon!

Mr Lochhead, our farming minister, announced at the show that he is putting tenant farmers’ absolute right to buy their farms back on the agenda. I am a tenant farmer and would love the opportunity to buy Caverton Mill. But let’s face it, even if I was offered the farm at a knockdown price, I would be paying a rent equivalent that would force me to asset strip the farm mercilessly.

I feel desperately sorry for tenants who have extremely bad relationships with their landlord, and it is right that laws should be in place to protect tenant rights.

But I am worried that the prospect of this back on the agenda will damage every tenant’s relationship with their landlord and will only encourage agents to try and elicit extreme and unreasonable rent increases from tenants.

With the improvement in weather it is staggering to see the amount of growth throughout the countryside. My broccoli and cauliflower crops already look considerably healthier than they ever seemed to be last year, although I have to be careful not to speak too soon as we are, as I write, only about half way through the planting programme.

Irrigators are being used in the area for the first time in three years with all of us who own these temperamental machines whinging about the amount of diesel they consume. There really is no pleasing us farmers sometimes!

Neil Thomson farms 607ha in partnership with his father and brother from Caverton Mill, Kelso, on the Scottish Borders, growing combinable crops and brassicas. Some of the mainly medium loam is let for potatoes, and the farm also has cattle and sheep

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