As political debates and posturing ramp up within agriculture, we must never forget that the day-to-day realities of farming remain the same as ever.
Some may have kicked off the year with high-minded discussions about the ramifications of Brexit and what Defra’s plan might be, but out on farms across the UK the physical work is still being done, and not in cosy conference halls.
It is a time of year when we are on the upward curve after the winter solstice and the days are slowly drawing out. However, the land remains hard, the days short and with a cold snap on the way, many of the older, infirm or simply unwell members of the farming community will be feeling it more than most.
This week’s new series in Beyond the Farm Gate (p132) looking at the health and wellness of the farming community reveals how farmers often have an ingrained self-image that, as people who do physical jobs, they will be the last ones to be struck down by illness.
But Wayne Smith’s inspirational fight against bowel cancer shows us for all the fear such diagnoses may provoke, early identification and treatment are absolutely key.
It is the same for those living with less serious but nonetheless painful ailments, such as arthritic hips or knees. Being hunkered down in a cold and damp farmhouse while swinging an arthritic leg may seem like a form of stoicism but, in reality, it is simply ignoring the problem when a trip to the doctors would be the easiest and most important step on the way to treatment.
As a community, we know we are not always good when it comes to talking about our problems, especially round physical or mental health, but it is something we need to be aware of.
There might be many major political issues for the industry to focus on at the moment, but nothing is more important than the intrinsic health and well-being of the farming community.
Making local connections in order to sell produce are at the heart of the great features this week on p20 and p119. Check them out.