A beef farmer in Scotland has risen to the challenge of feeding the nation and supporting the most vulnerable in his community during the coronavirus pandemic.
Jock Gibson, from Edinvale Farm in Dallas, Moray, has been working flat out to deal with the huge mail-order demand for his beef since the lockdown started in March.
The farmer said he had sleepless nights when restaurant closures cut off 80% of his business in an instant, but he adapted to increase local and national delivery of his Highland, Shorthorn and Aberdeen Angus beef.
“We have passed a year’s worth of sales through our own website since March. It has been flat out.
“We very quickly managed to realign and we have been incredibly lucky with the support we’ve had locally and nationally from people ordering online and buying from our shop,” Mr Gibson said.
He owns and runs Macbeth’s Butchers in Forres, a 20min drive from his farm.
He works with his wife, Fiona, and employs two people on the farm and seven people in the butchers.
“The staff have been brilliant. We gave them the weekend off recently, but they probably need a whole month off. It has been so busy.”
Mr Gibson has also been working with other local businesses to help make their deliveries using his van and pick-up truck, as well as collecting and delivering essential supermarket supplies to people who are self-isolating.
“That way, vulnerable people who can’t leave their homes don’t need to wait for weeks to receive their supermarket orders.
“We need consumers’ continued support. We want them to know that it is not a hassle to deliver to them.
“By allowing us to help people, people are helping us in business, and helping us keep our staff employed. I hope that afterwards the support will continue.
“By supporting local food producers and helping them generate a profit, you are helping them to invest back into their business and do all the things that the general public want farmers to do, like invest in nature.”
Nature Friendly Farming Network
Mr Gibson, who is part of the Nature Friendly Farming Network which promotes sustainable agriculture, has 40ha and rents a further 80ha.
He mob-grazes the cattle, which has helped improve soil health and biodiversity on the farm.
“The animals graze tightly on specific parts of the farm and then get moved around. This allows grass to be left to grow and flora and fauna increases in these areas.
“The cattle go back on the areas, but this happens gently. We are not destroying areas of habitat and we are not destroying species that are there with the cattle. They are getting the chance to move on, and they are co-existing with the livestock on the farm.”
The farm has cut fertiliser use by half, and is trying to minimise ploughing and tillage.
“Farmers can be more intelligent with how we use it [fertiliser], and by looking at different grass species, we are hoping we can do away with it altogether,” Mr Gibson said.
Farmers Weekly is getting behind the #FeedtheNation campaign to back UK farmers working flat out to produce safe, affordable and reliable food to feed the nation during the coronavirus crisis.
With our partners, we are raising public awareness of this campaign by highlighting the actions farmers are taking to get food to consumers.