We are now just past the halfway mark in 2022, so perhaps it is a suitable time to reflect on the year to-date.

It has been a year of huge uncertainty, with our input costs rising on a weekly basis and what we get for our end product unable to keep up. It means that we farmers are blowing a lot of money this year.

But apart from all that uncertainty, it is good to see most of the COVID-19 restrictions being lifted, which means we are able to get back on farms for face-to-face meetings.

While online meetings were extremely useful when we had nothing else, they do not compare to in-person events.


The year before COVID-19, I had 14 separate groups come to visit my farm and I really enjoyed every one of them. I like the interaction with other farmers, and it always challenges me to do better.

One fear I have is the longer-term impact of lockdowns on these social interactions, and perhaps it will be the biggest legacy from COVID-19.

Farmers (and indeed all rural people) have become withdrawn and it is going to take a long time for some of them to get back to living their lives. A lot of people do not realise the effect that rural isolation has on people’s mental wellbeing. Hopefully, we are now on the road to normality.


I have been lucky that I have had the opportunity to host two important farm visits in the last few weeks. I have really enjoyed getting back to that face-to-face interaction.

The first was through the ArcZero project and it was spread over four tours, which meant that each tour was a small interactive audience.

However, a lot of visitors were industry representatives, rather than farmers. I think that is because there is a fear among farmers when it comes to net-zero, whereas industry maybe has little option but be prepared to tackle it head-on.

I think that this is sad. We farmers should not be afraid. We have the ability to tackle the whole environmental issue, and with the help of scientists, we can deliver an exceptionally good outcome for everyone.


The next visit I had was just one week later and it was the summer tour of the British Grassland Society (BGS). This had been in the planning for almost three years and had been postponed on two separate occasions.

On both occasions, the weather was superb, which brought some great conditions for growing and utilising grass. Sadly this year has been different, and we have seen some of the worst periods for grass utilisation that I can remember. We have grown as much grass as other years, but clean outs etc have been extremely poor.

It was hard for me to prepare for this BGS visit under such challenging conditions.

The morning of the visits, we were completely soaked as we tried to put up boards and prepare the route. So much so that we had to abandon the work on a couple of occasions. We then had a torrential downpour just before the group arrived and there was water lying everywhere.

Thankfully, the rain stopped for a little while and we got out to the field, only for the rain to start again and we had to run for cover. After getting a tour of the calf house, we got out again to finish the planned stops.

I was disappointed in the way the weather behaved, but to be honest, it just showed exactly what we have been dealing with all year. Some of the delegates probably got their eyes opened, as they were from areas that are crying out for rain – they got a first-hand view of how hard it is to farm in the wet conditions.

Having said all this, it was a great experience to host the BGS and one that will live long in the memory. Hopefully, there will be lots of opportunities through the summer for us all to get back on farms and back socialising.

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