Farmer Focus: Hope we learn from this pandemic

We really are very lucky to work in the industry we do – producing food.

I know we all moan about the weather and the prices we get for our barley or beef or milk, but unlike many other industries the world can’t function without us, the food producers.

Life hasn’t even changed that much for most of us in the current crisis.

I know I am very fortunate to still be out and about delivering to shops and houses and as I pass so many businesses shut down with the coronavirus pandemic you can’t help but wonder about the poor people behind these businesses, who are either furloughed or who have already lost their jobs.

See also: OFC 2020: Expert to rebuff red meat claims and EAT-Lancet report

Many of these businesses may never open again.

Our little business is still very busy with home deliveries and we’ve seen a huge increase in footfall. We’ve been shipping orders all over the country, but we have hit a major snag this week as our insulated box supplier is struggling to get us more supplies.

We all know the world is going to be a very different place after this, but maybe there will be some good to come out of it.

Maybe people will realise they need to spend less time in their cars or on planes and more time at home with their families. Maybe they will realise it was the cars and planes destroying the planet and not the cows. Maybe people will continue to shop locally and maybe people will realise that they need to value our great British food producers.

Lambing has now finished and been successful. All sheep lambed outdoors in perfect weather conditions with most of the lambs still to experience what rain feels like.

I only assisted four ewes and had very few lamb losses. There have been a lot of cattle arriving over the last month. We’ve dropped from 300 ewes to 110 and increased cattle to more than 300 head.

Nearly all the cattle have been bought directly off-farm, mostly through our local co-op.

As usual, I think stores are too expensive relative to the fat price. Let’s hope we have a good BBQ season and prime prices rise.

Michael Shannon finishes 300 head of mostly Angus beef stores each year and runs 110 Scotch Mules on a 100ha forage-only enterprise near Biggar, Lanarkshire, as well as free-range turkeys for Christmas. Meat is sold through his online business and farm shop Damn Delicious, with surpluses sold deadweight.