One of the biggest challenges in farming is uncertainty over the weather and this year is turning out to be another one to remember.
We have had much-needed rain over the last few days, but the frigid temperatures are doing more than enough to keep the grass at a depressingly low level.
Cattle are out, but unlike most years when June brings growth rates way above consumption, the opposite is true. We have had it hot and too dry and then wet and too cold.
Any farms with anything other than low stocking levels look more like what they normally would in April, not June. Hopefully, by the time this article is being read things will be a little more summery.
In Cumbria, one of the biggest stories is that our agricultural college, Newton Rigg, is due to be closed in summer 2021.
The college has been a cornerstone for agricultural education and training for more than 120 years, with many farmers in the county having been students there or having family members that have.
The college has modern, top quality dairy and sheep housing which is crying out to be involved in future
research and training.
To look to a future when we have no further education provision for agriculture in this part of England is hugely depressing, especially when some of the hill farming courses are not available anywhere else.
We are one of the most rural and agricultural of counties, so it seems beyond belief we are heading into the future with our educational authorities seemingly more than content to let this institution vanish because the numbers do not currently add up.
If, as a county, we can not muster a response to this crisis when so many of our people either work in or depend on agriculture, then what does that say about how important we regard the industry going forward?
A negative chain reaction of a lack of industrial skills and interest in our younger would-be farmers would lead to a decline in agriculture in Cumbria.
With further education after the age of 16 now compulsory, many youngsters would be forced to opt for training in other industries.
The time is now to make our voices heard and it is not too late. The National Sheep Association is keen to help by raising awareness and lobbying, but up until now has been left out of discussions.
It would be ironic to find ourselves in 10 years’ time having lost Newton Rigg and losing the battle against the well-educated but practically useless brigade, who would love to see half of the farmers disappear so they could attempt to manage the landscape themselves.
A lack of trained and able young farmers coming through the ranks would only strengthen their cause.