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Joyce Campbell: This Farming Life response shows public are on our side

The dogs at Armadale have received fan mail from all over the world.
The dogs at Armadale have received fan mail from all over the world.

The second half of This Farming Life returned to our screens on BBC2 earlier this month.

The first six episodes in the series went on air last August.

We’re one of six farming families which opened our doors to film crews, who followed our farming journeys over the course of a year.

It wasn’t a decision which we took lightly but I’m very glad we said yes.

The positive feedback from the viewing public across the UK and overseas, where it’s been screened on Britbox, has been massive.

After last week’s episode, where I cried, I’ve had hundreds of emails, messages and phone calls from around the country.

They were all supportive and all understanding of the frustrations I had expressed.

Many were wanting to know, as the buying public of the food we produce, how they can make a difference by supporting Scottish and British brands.

The tears came as I was feeding ewes carrying twins last March, early in the morning, sheltering behind my quad from the weather and after some ferocious attacks on social media from vegan extremists.

You spend lots of time with the team filming you. It’s their job to work out what makes you tick and Stephen and Kate were good at their job.

Stephen asked the question: “What do your sheep mean to you?”

They’d have known that my ewes are my life and it would be a question which would provoke a passionate response.

I have a huge admiration for my North Country Cheviot Hill ewes – they’ve got attitude and we all need a bit of that to survive.

There’s been an unbroken line of them here on Armadale for more than 200 years, producing top-quality protein from ground that wouldn’t grow vegetables or cereals.

Due to the depth of peat and environmental designations, we’re not able to plant many tress.

But with a low stocking density – one ewe to seven acres – our flock of ewes will consistently deliver pens of healthy store lambs to Lairg in August, to be sold to finishers on better land in the south.

What reduced me to tears was when I explained my sadness at seeing supermarket chills with legs of lamb chucked in on a special offer and on discounted sale.

We’ve grown that lamb with care, dedication and using precious resources.

It feels like a race to the bottom and wasteful for it to be treated in such a disrespectful manner.

It’s tiring fighting with keyboard warriors and their half-baked theories on agriculture.

The environmental balance we need for sustainable food production, fighting climate change and feeding the country needs farmers and growers to take the lead rather than defending our positions constantly.

We need to deal in facts rather than the propaganda that grab the headlines from extreme lobbyists.

The massive response we’ve received from the This Farming Life viewers shows me that the public are very much on our agricultural industry’s side.

They connect with the stories behind the food we produce.

I can also confirm that we really are a nation of dog lovers – my team of dogs have also been inundated with fan mail.

We have genuinely all been blown away with everyone’s kindness; thank you all.

  • Joyce Campbell farms at Armadale on the north coast of Sutherland.

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