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LAMMA 2021

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Farming matters: Abi Reader - '#Farm24 support is not just brilliant - it is essential'

It is just over a week on from the incredible success of #Farm24. Huge congratulations once again to the team at Farmers Guardian for another spectacular event and massive thank you to sponsors Morrisons because without sponsors many dreams would not be realised.

This year has been the best yet with industry representatives throughout the chain really going out of their way to spread our message about food and farming.

The summer months are traditional months for many agricultural shows and gatherings and also a critical time for many farms for harvesting and selling food.


It has been very sad this year to miss out on the shows, particularly, the missed opportunity to showcase who we are and what we do at these events. Full credit to everyone who has managed online events.

The support for these events, and occasions like #Farm24, is not just brilliant, it is essential.


Recently I have hosted a small film production company for the day.


They are making a programme about the issues of antimicrobial resistance and infectious disease and what role animal agriculture plays in this.


The brief was for ‘the desire to show a balanced viewpoint, but coming from the angle of anti-animal agriculture’.


The crew were also open about some of them being vegan. In fairness to them they were excellent on the day.


I always see opportunities like this as a chance to land some important messages but more than that, it is a chance to combat those myths and misunderstandings that many grow up believing about what we do.


Every time I engage with these sorts of tasks I make a renewed promise to myself I will try even harder to communicate to people outside the industry.


A huge shout out as well to Amy Jackson of Oxtale and John Bates from AHDB who made sure I did not go into this unprepared. Yet another example of how fantastic the industry can be at working together when the need arises.

On an entirely separate note my mother’s family farm - a smallholding run by her sister and late husband - is being taken back by the landlord and sold off for housing.


It is a sad time to see the last remnants of the link I felt to my maternal grandfather, who I can barely remember because he died when I was two, disappear.

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I have always felt a strong bond with him and know he would be proud to see me following in my parents, and his, footsteps.


So it is with great joy and pride to now take on responsibility and care of his old tractor, a Fordson Major.


I have also been given a small box of my grandfather’s old tools which shall be treasured. Just holding them makes me feel proud of my heritage.


As I am writing this sat, above my milking parlour, I am half listening to the happy chatter of three students hosing down the parlour below.


None of them have previous links to agriculture, two want to be vets and one wants to be a farmer.


When they started here they were nervous.


A few days in they are covered in cow muck, hot and tired but still laughing, and still working.


AI is not so scary after all, sick cows are always given top priority, and yes dairy farmers all have their favourite cows. The future is with these youngsters.

After 15 incredibly difficult and turbulent months we have finally gone bovine TB clear.


It was quite the utopia I was expecting.


We are left picking up the pieces of severe overstocking, the result of a backlog of beef calves difficult to move, and an excess of dairy heifers because I changed the breeding plan to ensure plenty of replacements in case we had big losses.


We lost 13 cows in total, and I volunteered our old stock bull for cull as well in case he was the problem.


We still face the question of how it got in, and worse has it really gone or will it come back.


My farm is hopefully about to join with 9 others in South Wales to engage with a Farmer and Vet led pilot, in partnership with MV Diagnostics, to look at the threat of residual disease in herds. It feels good to take some control back.