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Farming Matters: Rona Amiss - 'To help the nation farmers must be prepared to listen'

I write this on the day the twins have gone back to school. It is school, but not as we knew it, with three hours once-a-week for five weeks and they have had some useful teaching of maths, which is a relief from struggling through online worksheets.

It is encouraging most of the class was there and although different, it is a start to getting back to normal.

 

Cornwall has had very few Covid-19 cases and generally we have been lucky, with beautiful weather and most people having the opportunity to get outside.

 

Tourism

 

The prospect of no tourism does not seem to have registered, with most people cushioned by the Government furlough scheme, but put bluntly it is a catastrophe for the Duchy.

 

Plans are being made to open many local businesses, but the cafes are looking at massively reduced covers and limited menus. Already several in the village have decided not to reopen, which all means jobs are going to be very short.

 

The ripple effect across the sectors which initially you would not imagine would be influenced by tourism is tremendous.

 

It is with despair we listen to Cornwall councillors saying we do not want any tourists until September. I can honestly say we do or there will not be much of a future for the young people, even if they do manage to pass their exams.


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Our little farmshop has been open for four years, mostly selling local products, our meat and lots of cream teas to the tourists. It has been a useful add on to the farm and helps to pay our extortionate rent.

 

We quickly made it safe, stayed open and started supplying what local people needed, especially flour and fresh produce. In this we were supported by the local wholesale delivery companies which were having to change the products they supplied.

 

The response to us being open has been fantastic and our little shop has become a community asset. Part of the success was because we found people needed someone to listen to them.

 

My daughter and I have spent many hours with people telling us their worries, how scared they were, about their grandchildren, cats, dogs or even their cooking. At the start it was overwhelming how frightened people were, but slowly they adapted and saw the positives while regaining a sense of purpose and well-being.

 

Listen

 

Many times I have written articles telling our story and letting people know about how we are farming, but I am starting to realise we also need to listen.

 

Society is at a massive crossroads and farmers have to be part of the changes which will happen, but we have got to stop lecturing people they need to buy food produced to a certain standard and in a certain way.

 

We need to ask the customer what they want, the type of food, the production and the price they want to pay.

 

How are we going to contribute to the healing of the nation if we are not prepared to listen? Or are we scared what we may find out?

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