Dartford’s farmers have suffered badly from the effects of last year’s adverse weather. Persistent rain followed by winter snowfall has made life difficult for both our livestock and arable farmers.
The weather caused big problems during the lambing season, resulting in the loss of animals due to the cold conditions. The Government has put in place new measures to help farmers dispose of deceased livestock and replenish lost stocks, but this is still a large loss to the local farming community. Fruit farmers, including strawberry and apple growers, have also had to battle the elements. As a large producer of apples, Kent has suffered particularly badly.
It’s not just the weather that our farmers have had to contend with. Bovine TB is a devastating disease for farmers who predominately rely on cattle for their income. It causes huge distress for both badgers and cows and has led to thousands of cattle being destroyed around the country. Fortunately Kent has escaped the worst of the disease but there is no room for complacency.
Farmers have always had to battle our unpredictable climate but now they also tackle unnecessary bureaucracy which prevents them from making the best of their situation. Complex employment laws can add to the difficulties. This is why the Government is abolishing the Agricultural Wages Board which creates an additional layer of employment legislation on top of minimum wage laws. This move has been welcomed by the National Farmers Union.
It is important that the farming industry is allowed to flourish. If yields of crops and meat are low then clearly this increases the cost of food in our shops and we all suffer as a result. If farmers are not supported by the Government and local communities, then the industry is at risk of decline, which would have a terrible impact on the UK.