An Agricentre Area Manager’s View from the Field: 24 Little Hours

Pulling myself from the warmth of the duvet at 6am is undeniably made less of a struggle with the knowing that some of my farming friends would have given up this simple pleasure a long time before me and a short while before the morning sun. At the eye rubbing time of 5am on the 20th August, FG Insight, the Farmers Guardian online platform, launched ‘24 Hours in Farming’.

The initiative was launched and sponsored by BASF to highlight farmers, their families and the industry. To show how hard-working the farming and rural community is and how much effort goes into producing food and shaping the countryside we all enjoy. 24 Hours in Farming was exactly what it said on the tin, live and interactive!

Tweets, posts, pictures and video clips buzzed with the highs and lows of all that is heard, felt and smelt during a typical 24 hours farming in rural Britain during late August. Calves were born, livestock was fed, yards were scraped, sheep were sold, corn was combined, eggs were collected, cows were milked, children were wrangled, meals were made, tears were shed and smiles spread.

Of course, I only give you a thimbleworth of what went on, and it was all shared by thousands of people over the social media networks with the hashtag #farm24. It exceeded all expectation with its success – it even went global! It was an inspiring initiative and oiled the door which in turn opened to show a glimpse of a world I think many of us feel is isolated in comparison to years gone by.

Often I am told stories by much older and wiser folk of how once there was a time when the majority knew the farmer, the workers and the butcher all by their first names and quite often would call each other friends. The boom in population and its demands has taken this away to some extent, but there are other factors that have also contributed to the breakdown of that personal connection within communities.

I think a lot of heads would nod in agreement when we talk about the lack of education there has been and the stereotypes that people fall under. Everybody needs to hold their hands up and accept some of this blame. It is absolutely essential that the industry doesn’t just shrug its heavy shoulders and accept that this is just the way it is because if we can’t promote our own industry then how can we ever expect it to get better in the short term for us and in the long run for those who are going to be the next generation of farmers?

It is always great to see the agricultural and food industry open up so that we can show there is so much more to farming than the flat cap and crook that is conjured up on the use of the word ‘farmer’. I learnt quickly from my friends that farming isn’t just a job, it is a lifestyle. It is a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year commitment.

Farming is a struggle threaded through with love, pride and passion. I think this was beautifully evident in what was shared during those 24 little hours. So, as that 6am alarm loudly announces the beginning of my day, I get up and out because I am lucky enough to be a part of a community where there are birds far earlier than me and still smile when I come calling.