SIR, – A letter with a seasonal twist and a wish for a greater level of understanding and respect for farming

In the spirit of Charles Dickens, it is time to conjure up the Christmas farming ghosts of the past, present and future.

The Ghost of Farming Past – Humankind has not been able to achieve the marvellous things it has without the sustenance of its farmers.

From those who first tamed the wild animals and grasses in their midst to those who ensured the world remained fed when it was in greatest peril.

The best farmers knew that nature was an ally not an enemy which helped to deliver abundant harvests alongside natural wonders. Nearly 30 years ago some of these farmers realised it was time to rebalance agriculture and nature and the organisation, Linking Environment And Farming (LEAF) was born.

The Ghost of Farming Present – Political chaos, wild weather, 24-hour social media and the burden of poor diets mean that many farmers can be forgiven for feeling bewildered and uncertain which way to turn.

But many are meeting those challenges head-on, including the hundreds who will take part in LEAF Open Farm Sunday, farming’s annual open day on the June 7, 2020 to explain the vital role farmers play in producing safe, wholesome food, caring for the environment and providing public access to more than a quarter of a million people on this day alone.

The Ghost of Farming Future – The new decade will see fresh demands on farmers to not only feed a growing population with good value nutritious food, but to help save the planet from rising temperatures and even more extreme weather.

Farmers are part of the carbon solution, capturing greenhouse gases and generating limitless supplies of energy.

Their pride in what they do to protect and enhance our precious natural resources will be seen in school on-farm visits and the embracing of new means of communication – bring on Farmer Time – the next generation!

Also, at a time when the farming industry is looking to demonstrate its world leading environmental and animal welfare credentials, the need for robust, credible and transparent environmental assurance systems, like LEAF Marque, will be key.

In an era of lack-of-trust and uncertainty, LEAF wishes everyone a Happy Christmas and a New Year filled with hope, greater understanding and respect.

Caroline Drummond

LEAF Chief Executive