Moral low as bad weather and bad science beleaguers tenant farmers

Prolonged wet weather and mainstream media bias are two of the biggest worries currently facing tenant farmers.

The Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) reports that the two were recurring themes from its latest round of regional committee discussions.

The struggles in dealing with the prolonged period of bad weather, compounded by the poorly-informed commentary from the mainstream media on the environmental impact of UK agriculture, are taking their toll according to TFA chief executive, George Dunn.

‘Moral is low’

The TFA holds an autumn round of discussions with all its regional committees every year to take the pulse of the membership and the day-to-day issues impacting those at the grassroots of our farming industry. However, this year, Dunn said morale was particularly low.

Dunn said: “Our members care greatly about the job they do. They pride themselves in delivering fantastic food and other associated products to consumers both here and abroad.

This year, however, morale is low. They are struggling massively with the extended period of exceptionally wet weather which has disrupted later harvest and subsequently delayed sowing and crop establishment.

“Many crops simply will not get into the ground this winter, leaving a substantial amount of planting to lower-yielding crops in the spring.

“Another major concern is the number of regions who are reporting the failure of their oilseed rape crops.

“While poor weather has contributed to poor ground conditions, these crops have been further weakened by attacks from flea beetle, which are running rampant following the ban on the use of neonicotinoids.

“Of course, there’s nothing new about farmers having to deal with bad weather, it is part and parcel of operating in an outdoor environment. However, it underlines the fragility of returns to farmers and their exposure to volatility.”

Media criticism

Dunn added that many farmers felt they needed to “continually defend themselves” against media criticism and explained that this had caused unnecessary stress to many in the sector.

“Coping with the highs and lows of farming is one thing but, having to deal with the ill-informed media onslaught attacking UK agriculture on its environmental and animal welfare credentials is massively unfair to the farming community,” he said.

Farmers are being wrongly blamed for everything from ruining the climate, wiping out vulnerable wildlife and damaging our health. All of this is nonsense.

“UK farmers are at the global cutting edge of delivering great product produced to high environmental and animal welfare standards and deserve credit for the great work that they do.

“With so much talk about the importance of mental health issues, our farmers have enough to battle with dealing with the everyday issues of farming without also having to defend themselves against unnecessary, uninformed, cheap jibes from the media.”