UK farmers shine through the darkness of Covid-19

The farming role plays an integral part in the lives of our rural, and indeed urban, communities and has only become stronger during these difficult times.

A couple of weeks ago, Farmers Guide magazine reignited the ‘Keep Calm & Carry On’ initiative within the UK agricultural sector, following the doom-and-gloom press coverage surrounding the current Covid-19 pandemic. The reality, however, is that farming is an industry with so many uncertainties that the only practical attitude to survive in the field is to ‘Keep Calm & Carry On’ all year round. This hardy approach to their farming roles plays an integral part in the lives within our rural, and indeed urban, communities and has only become stronger during these difficult times.

As the UK’s major supermarkets struggle to keep up with increasing demand and the most vulnerable in society are forced to stay home, farmers have been out en masse – not just spring planting, lambing and feeding the country as normal – but going the extra mile to help the elderly and those who are unable to source basic essentials.

Norfolk farmer Tim Briscoe starts his day early in order to deliver 12.5kg bags of potatoes to the most vulnerable in his area, whilst similarly, Essex potato farmers Laura and Robert Strathern have responded to the crisis by setting up a free local home delivery of vegetables and hand-made crisps.

Tim Briscoe, manager at Buxton Potato Company, starts his day early to deliver sacks of potatoes to those who can’t leave their homes.

Meanwhile, the Probus Young Farmers in Cornwall are helping within their communities by collating shopping lists of food and medical supplies, collecting them from local shops and delivering them to those who are at particular risk if they leave their homes. North Yorkshire based Bert’s Barrow farm shop is one of the first rural food shops to allow customers to drive to the farm, place their order and have their shopping put directly into the boot of their car by an employee, eliminating most chances of contamination.

In these times of isolation, to which most farmers are well accustomed, many agricultural workers are also taking to social media to educate the general population on what the day-to-day running of UK farms involves. Guy and Emily French, two Essex farmers, are no doubt very popular with some parents after offering regular educational videos online to inform children about farm life. Another farmer, Andrew Ward, is also helping the local and wider community with his daily videos, giving the public a window into his farm and life in the country, providing joy and inspiration to those who are housebound and unable to enjoy open spaces.

“With so many people at home and on social media it is an ideal opportunity to help bridge the gap between urban life and the countryside, and dispel any myths that farmers don’t care about the environment and climate change. We care about the same things that everyone else cares about.” Mr Ward stated.

As well as farmers making full use of the internet to stay connected and help the wider community, for the first time ever, the Cereals Event 2020 is set to go online – producers may be unable to physically attend the event, but all features will be delivered virtually. Modern problems require modern solutions!

JCB received a direct appeal from Prime Minister Boris Johnson to help plug the national ventilator shortage and to help save lives of Coronavirus patients.

Machinery companies are also doing their bit to support an essential industry and keep the country running. Claas has announced that it will continue to operate all parts, workshop, sales and delivery services as normal, whilst fully complying with the government’s latest Covid-19 advice. JCB Chairman Lord Bamford promised to help in any way the company could to plug the national ventilator shortage by re-starting production at a closed factory to manufacture steel housings for an innovative new ventilator, designed by Dyson.

Addressing the public in a post on social media, NFU president Minette Batters summarised the incredible actions of British farmers in recent weeks: “I want to give a massive shout out to each and every one of you from farmers right across the UK. We are working 24/7 and we are absolutely determined to keep on producing the high quality, affordable, high welfare food that you enjoy and I just want you to know on behalf of all farmers, we have got your backs.”

Regardless of the unprecedented effects of the pandemic, the Government acknowledged the difficult year UK farmers have had with floods and lack of drilling opportunities by confirming the relaxation of the three-crop rule and freezing the red diesel subsidy for agriculture. Throughout the current national emergency, farmers continue to feed the nation and support their local communities despite the odds stacked against them and in return, the Farmers Guide team are emulating this monumental effort to support UK farmers with our monthly magazine. We have always seen the ‘best of British’ in times of adversity and there is no better example than from the unflustered farming community, who do as they have always done, and calmly carry on.

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