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Border Collie Rescue - On Line - Farm Diversification - Prefix

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Farm Diversification - Prefix - By Mike Cooke of Border Collie Rescue

In spite of all the media hype about greedy farmers living on subsidies from the taxpayers pocket, you may be surprised to hear that the vast majority of farmers are honest hard working men and women who struggle to make a living, working all hours of the day and night in a very competitive and difficult market. Trapped between the buying power of the supermarket chains fed by the increasing demands of the public for cheap produce and the increasing amount of legislation and paperwork that seems to go with the industry these days, many small traditional family hill farms are having to supplement the meagre income their hard work returns after the ever increasing costs of running their business.

Of course, not all farmers are poor. Some landowners are getting rich at the expense of the rest of us by buying up the land of the failing small holding and amalgamating it all into larger holdings. With this extra clout and power the size of their businesses commands, these landowners are able to have better control of their markets and the price of their products. But this is the minority that gets the rest of the trade a bad name.

During the Foot and Mouth crisis in particular, Border Collie Rescue has come into contact with hundreds of small farms and smallholdings throughout the UK and we have heard their stories first hand and seen the evidence with our own eyes. Their plight affects us directly in the sense that there is a slowly decreasing number of smaller farms that can offer us good working homes for the dogs we take in from working environments. It is a major concern as many working farm dogs would not adapt to the pet life. We would not like to envisage a future in which the working Border Collie becomes a historical figure in the UK and the qualities in the breed that has endeared it to us all are lost.

But some farmers are not giving up the ghost, some are fighting back and are determined to keep providing the rest of us with good quality food and produce, even if they have to work even harder in other areas in order to get enough money to live on so they can continue to do so. Use a bit of logic - why would they do this if they were greedy, lazy and able to live the 'Life of Riley' from EEC subsidies as some sources claim. Why would they work all day and then spend most of the night gathering hay or crops or tending sick stock by lamplight - in wind, rain, snow or whatever the elements throw at them and then worry about their future when they do have time to sit and think about it? Many would think they are crazy but perhaps they are not as insane as many of those who knock them without thought. So Border Collie Rescue has decided to tell some of these stories here. Not to generate sympathy but to engender understanding in the hope that some who read will appreciate and value the work these people do and the lengths they go to in order to put British food on our plates.

In case you may think the author of these words has a vested interest in farming outside the re-homing of Border Collie dogs - think again. I am sound engineer, provide PA systems for hire and also work in other areas of the music industry. I work unsociable hours in noisy environments and see others enjoying and appreciating the fruits of my labour while I worry about the equipment working properly, the timing of the event and what time I am going to arrive home after I have packed it all up after the audience has left for their beds. Sometimes it pays well, other times not, but there are hidden rewards when an audience shows its appreciation of the entertainment provided and I know that my work has contributed to their pleasure. I sometimes feel I am overpaid for the effort I have put in - but not often! If I had to contend with a generally hostile reaction and constant criticism from the public that were enjoying the results of my work, I do not think I would carry on. To me this would be beyond the call of duty and would mar the personal satisfaction that my work gives me. Although I love my work and often work for free for the love of it, I would think again. So I have come to admire the average British farmer for their commitment to their industry, for their resilience and for the sheer hard work they have to put in to keep their farms running.

Now you have read my words - click here to go back to the place you came from and read about some of the farms and farmers who refuse to lie down and die.

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