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Spring is upon us

by Tim Fray

It seems as though a lot has happened this month. The situation in Ukraine is driving up fuel and food prices. And for the first time ever yesterday, 24 March 2022, the price of oil seed rape went above $1000 / tonne. With wheat prices now over £300 per tonne, agricultural economies are in a spin. It’s a busy time for farmers. Its time to think about crops to sow for the coming year, and fertiliser to spread, which is also now up the staggering price of £1000 /tonne, from £300/ tonne six months ago. It is difficult to consider how its possible to run an effective, let along successful business, in such a climate. Should we turn to more basic tried and tested practices, or should we turn to technology? Only time will tell, I think.

On top of this, the current bout of Avian Influenza does not seem to be going away. As you may have seen on the news, producers and shops can no longer sell free range eggs or chickens. The UK is one of the largest producers of eggs in Europe. There are approximately 29 million laying hens and 116 million broilers in the UK at any one time (DEFRA 2009). In England alone there are 6.14 million breeding fowls, 4.9 million turkeys, 2 million ducks and 105,000 geese. Approximately 750 million broilers are slaughtered annually, producing 1.13 million metric tonnes carcase weight (DEFRA 2009). That’s a lot of animals now having to be kept indoors.

And to top it off, NFU president Minette Batters has described the current pig industry crisis as a ‘disgrace’ that could and should have been avoided. The national pig herd has lost-one tenth of all sows over the last six months, farmers’ associations have revealed, after breeders were forced into a massive cull caused by a shortage of labour in abattoirs.

As usual, agricultural matters often find the 5th or 6th page of the paper rather than the first page, but being from farming stock myself, I often spare a thought for other farmers and their valiant efforts to keep Britain fed. So why not take time some time out from your days for a moment of mindfulness to be grateful of the surroundings we are in and the efforts of others. Here is a short video I took this morning to get you in the mood (Sound On).

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