Gloucestershire Vice Chairman, Thomas Jenner-Fust talks about a recent fire they had, the resilience of the farming community and the important part farmers play in the UK economy.
"Prior to the recent rain, the summer heat had blasted the country, while many office workers can enjoy an air conditioned environment there is no respite for farmers. The needs of crops and livestock mean that farming is an all year endeavour that needs to continue whatever the weather.
This week I received a call from a tenant reporting ‘a bit of an emergency’. A young farmer was tedding a field of cut hay when a piece of machinery failed and a small fire started. Unfortunately a gust of wind caught a few sparks which soon caught the cut hay. The resulting fire was enormous and the smoke cloud could be seen for miles around.
Within minutes of the fire starting neighbouring farmers and contractors were rallying around to help. Another tedder was brought into play to move hay away from the burning edge of the inferno. Luckily the wind was taking most of the flames eastward in the direction of woodland. This woodland, being in leaf, acted as a firebreak and by the time the fire brigade arrived the worst of the flames had burnt themselves out.
During the pandemic we have heard a lot of talk about key workers and rightly so. I do wonder whether our farmers, who are of course key workers, have received enough praise. Indeed when reading the press or looking at social media it often feels as though farmers and the agricultural industry are perceived negatively. Perhaps the people who write our newspapers and online ‘content’ are not well placed to write about an industry that they appear to be so far removed from.
We should never forget that the farming industry is essential. Without food we cannot survive and clearly we cannot import all of our food, nor should we in light of climate change. It is well known that farming is the most dangerous profession in terms of deaths and serious injuries. As I write it is Farm Safety week and since the blaze here there have been two others very locally, one a tractor and combine the other a barn fire. The dangers of farming are not always ones that can be mitigated with risk assessments.
The farming community is brilliant at rallying around when disaster strikes. I only hope that government, the press and the public can also see their way to supporting UK farmers over the coming years. We can’t survive without them."