Editor’s view: Reasons farmers can be cheerful this Christmas

At this time of year, our website is festooned with a feast of special content to delight and entertain while you hopefully grab a few extra hours of rest in front of the wood burner.

If you look for trouble in agriculture you will always find it, but I am reluctant to focus on anything negative right now as there will be plenty of time for that once normal business resumes.

See also: Editor’s view: Welsh farmers are simply fed up with being fed up

About the author

Andrew Meredith
Farmers Weekly editor
Andrew has been Farmers Weekly editor since January 2021 after doing stints on the business and arable desks. Before joining the team, he worked on his family’s upland beef and sheep farm in mid Wales and studied agriculture at Aberystwyth University. In his free time he can normally be found continuing his research into which shop sells London’s finest Scotch egg.
Read more articles by Andrew Meredith

In fact, can I be so bold as to suggest that no individual farming sector is ending the year in crisis?

Prices could be higher, the weather could be a lot better and inputs could be cheaper, but that is always the case.

I actually think there is cause for celebration. This week has seen yet another vegan food company crumble into administration.

The fanfare surrounding these companies has been loud for a long time, but now the money has run out and their balance sheets have caught up with the reality that consumers simply aren’t as interested in their products as they are in chicken, pork, beef, lamb and dairy.

I hope we will in time be able to look back on 2023 as the year when anti-livestock farming sentiments in general peaked and began to fade away.

The realisation that livestock are needed to deliver the solutions to climate change is sinking in, and farming’s reputation improves daily.

Occasional ill-informed television programmes have been blown out of the water by the behemoth that was the second season of Clarkson’s Farm, as well as other fine shows such as This Farming Life.

In addition, farmers are reaching bigger audiences than ever on YouTube, where they can speak directly to consumers about the reality of their day-to-day life.

The AHDB is robustly challenging mistruths when it finds them in the media as well.

To preserve our good reputation the food chain must adhere to the high legislative standards set for it and at Farmers Weekly we have played our part in this by exposing wrongdoing at a meat processing firm in our major exclusive story in March.

This in turn led to the Meat: Our Expectations campaign to raise standards, which secured its first major victory in October, helping to prod the Food Standards Agency into funding a whistleblowing hotline for potential food crime to be reported.

And once again we helped champion our industry at New Scientist Live, bringing together a slew of industry representatives to promote agriculture as a career to 23,000 visitors over three days.

Separately we also supported Open Farm Sunday, a great public-facing initiative.

It is entirely fitting that beef and lamb producers are enjoying good prices at the moment and, at this time, when so many consumers are feeling the pinch, it is very gratifying that the industry continues to be well supported.

Of course, there are still plenty of farmers out there this Christmas who are feeling financial hardship or are in need of support in other ways.

Farmers have long been renowned for being very willing to put their hand in their pocket to help those in need, both inside and outside of the industry.

So it is only right that the festive icing on the cake is a whole section celebrating the achievements of scores of farmers who have devoted so much of their time to noble causes.

“If you want something done, ask a busy person,” has never been truer. Merry Christmas to you all.

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