I have just returned from Bishop Burton to my home and have seen five tractors all working in one field, now you may be thinking that there is nothing strange about this for we live in a rural area but it made me realise how silent the fields have been during these past few months, we have seen little motorised or human activity and even the shoots of green have been reluctant to make an appearance above the ground. Now before any farmers who may be reading this get hot under the collar I know that you will have been very busy doing many of the other jobs that need to be undertaken about the farm.

Farming in many respects is an act of faith in that it is hoped that what is sown or bred will grow and flourish thus enabling food to be provided for the world’s rapidly growing population.

After the weather condition that we have experienced over the last eighteen months farmers will be hoping for a better time ahead for they have been hit hard by the long spell, indeed very long spell of adverse weather conditions which began with drought, followed by record flooding and then snow and frost even as late as April in some parts. This has caused a shortage of food stock for their animals making what is available very expensive. This situation means that many farmers are just about able to maintain their animals but not able to give them that extra nutrition needed for them to put on more meat or produce milk, I understand that milk yields for many dairy farmer are down by as much as 30% to 40%.

The worrying trend is the increase in farmers who are seeking help and support from farming charities such as the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution, RABI. Yes there are farming businesses that are large enough, efficient enough, or have diversified enough who will be able to survive in this economic climate but there are on the other hand marginal farmers who, for a variety of reasons, maybe geographical location or size, these farmers are struggling to make ends meet. The final straw for many was this last really cold spell and who can forget the scenes of sheep and lambs who did not survive, animals that were to be their livelihood for the years ahead. In Yorkshire RABI report that there is a 50% increase in the number of farmers receiving food vouchers, in most cases this is because they are using any available funds to feed their livestock. Farming charities are providing much needed support for farmers and their families.

Rogation Sunday, the 5th Sunday after Easter is a time when we traditionally, in our prayers, ask for God’s blessing on the land, livestock and crops in the hope of a good harvest. This year our service, in conjunction with Newbald, will be held at Raikes Farm. It will start at 10.45a.m. and will be followed by a ‘bring and share’ lunch. A percentage of the offering will be donated to RABI. Do please come and join us as we pray for all who farm and their families in these difficult and challenging times.

Peace to you all. Ruth.

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