We all know that the last 18 months have affected every part of our country, from individuals who have been unable to see their family and friends, to vital businesses who have lost earnings and many who have been unable to carry on due and have had to make the sad decision to cease training.
In this months blog, Hill View Farm look into the affect and stress that has been put on British farmers throughout the pandemic. From lack of crops, to difficulty selling due to demand and the closing of farm shops, it is obvious that farmers and their livelihoods have been drastically pressured throughout the last 18 months, but with us now coming out of lockdown, has this changed the way the general public approach locally sourced food and could this be for the better?
The Farming Industry in Britain today
British farming has been prevalent in our country for thousands of years. Supporting and adapting with the times, the trends and the requirements of the British people, farming is a foundation that many UK residents choose to build their lives upon.
According to Countryside Online, the farming sector is worth over £120 billion per year and employs over 4 million people. Providing many ingredients that end up in our homes and ensuring that the environment benefits from the work they complete, the sector is a secure area of the British industry, that if lost could cause dramatic consequences for many.
There are many challenges that the farming industry face daily, including importation from other countries resulting in wasted produce, global warming affecting climate change often meaning difficulties in even growing crops and tending to livestock in the first place and funding the running of the farm, plant machinery and labour.
Covid-19 outbreak and the effects on British Farmers
During the start of the pandemic, the farming community were recognised as critical during the pandemic, meaning that farm workers and farmers (as well as vets) being named as key workers. Thankfully, this meant that in a limited capacity, farmers were able to continue with their daily duties to their farmland and livestock. There were however, many other issues to contend with during this time.
Alongside many other issues that Covid-19 has brought to the farming industry, one notable concern according to the NFU, has been the availability of haulage trucks during the pandemic. Farmers require the consistent use of haulage trucks in order to move and export various grain and crops and to have deliveries of fertiliser, fuel and grains to sow and due to the overwhelming requirement for haulage, this has been difficult if not impossible to organise logistically.
As well as having to contend with physical challenges, the impact on this pandemic on the lives of many farmers remains clear. The Farm Safety foundation recently conducted a survey and found that over 80% of farmers (under the age of 40) feel that mental health is a considerable problem not discussed currently in the industry of farmers and the community.
Lockdown and livestock farming
Not only did the farming sector have to deal with the direct effects of the pandemic, but running concurrently with this was the impending date of Brexit. Currently, 90% of sheep meat exports from the UK go into the EU.
Social distancing and having to isolate created many problems for farmers who were tending to crops and livestock on a daily basis. Lose of seasonal workers, both through the closures of various borders and UK based farm hands having to isolate has meant that support for our farms has been scarce at times and many farmers have had to work on farms often independently.
Animal welfare and health however was protected. With Vets being classed as key workers alongside others, this meant that should an animal fall unwell, need support with birthing, or require emergency care, Vets were still able to continue playing vital roles in the farming industry.
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Food production and Farm Shops
With the country in lockdown battling the Covid-19 pandemic, and non-essential shops being unable to open, farm shops were considered a essential shop, however often due to their size (small in nature) and that they are only manned by a handful of employees at any time, if a staff member needed to isolate, it often meant that the whole team would also have to do so, resulting in shops being forced to close for often lengthy periods of time. Generally, the size of the average farm shop is smaller due to the UK currently being a predominantly food importing country with many of the dishes we serve coming from all around the world – and not the UK.
Many farm shops moved to operating online and providing a collection / delivery service so they could still provide produce and earn a living. With restrictions still in place, many of the public decided to shop local and avoid large superstores due to the amount of people still shopping. Being able to complete ordering online has meant that not only have British people been able to discover their local farm shops and the unique produce they provide, but many have also now decided to stick with buying local and have moved away from larger brands.
When you shop with your local farm shop, not only are you supporting local businesses and farmers during this unprecedented time, but you can be sure of the quality of produce and that what you are purchasing, particularly meat, has been raised and produced in the UK. Essentially, you can track the food supply chain back to your local field and this is becoming more and more important to the British public.
Hill View Farm is here for you and your business
The family farm business, Hill View farm is conveniently located in Buckinghamshire with great links in the surrounding areas. Like others, we have been massively affected by the coronavirus pandemic, but continue to support each other and our community at this time.
For a great variety of straw, hay and haylage, including hay bales to hire for those looking at seating arrangements with a difference for their event, Hill View can support you. Having been in operation as a working farm for over 40 years, we have produced high quality straw and hay primarily used for livestock and bedding, as well as offering great services such as gritting, flailbot hire and agricultural services.
In a time where it has never been more important to support local businesses, contact Hill View Farm today and see how we can support you and your farm life.