At time of writing NFU Scotland’s president Martin Kennedy is lambing in snow covered glens in upper Perthshire while at the other end of the country i Stranraer Gary Mitchell, the milk committee chairman is at first cut silage – all on the same day.
Given the diverse and beautiful landscape we have in Scotland, it’s no much wonder it’s such a worldwide tourist destination.
Let’s hope that agritourism gets a better go this year. As all other sectors are seeing increased values for commodities, they have had it tough with reduced income and higher overheads.
It’s only right that, as the pandemic runs out of control in some parts of the world, we stay at home to holiday and support our own economy.
As farmers, we wouldn’t put out stock or grow crops in places where they risk infection so why should the public be allowed to?
Staying at home and helping the local markets has a huge benefit to the economy – look at how our prices have risen with very little export trade.
Staycation does have a downside, however, with a need to manage the increased numbers of dog walkers, joggers and cyclists. And I don’t want to sound like a grumpy old farmer shouting: “Get off my land.”
I’m sure many of us have been in the same situation where you come behind a group of cyclists – two or three wide in the road – who pass road ends and passing places and don’t pull in and if you try to pass you are criticised.
The same rule applies to farmers in tractors – if we have traffic behind us on the road, we have to pull in where it is safe to do so to let cars past.
With increased traffic and visitors in the countryside, there needs to be more of a dialogue between land managers and the public to inform and prevent these situations.
We welcome the public to enjoy the countryside, but the fact remains that this is our livelihood. There needs to be respect on both sides and we hope that those enjoying their holidays or days off also recognise that the countryside is also a place of work.
Some irresponsible folks on a farm not far from here have been letting their dog run uncontrolled through freshly-calved cows. Why does this still happen with all the publicity, social media coverage, and pictures of injured animals?
Having a dog in amongst cows and calves is not only a danger to the dog owner but their pets as well. It only takes one or two naive cases to spoil the experience of this green and pleasant land, regardless of whether you’re in Stranraer or snow-covered glens in Highland Perthshire.
- Cameron MacIver is NFU Scotland Highland region chairman.