How farming makes us better than we are

It has been almost 13 years since I wrote my first stories for Farmer’s Weekly as a freelance journalist, and now, as we start a new year, the time has come for me to start something new.

How farming makes us better than we are
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This is my last letter to you as editor of this publication, and while I am looking forward to my next challenge in journalism, I am sad to leave this magazine that has taught me so much about the world and myself.

Even though I grew up on a farm, when I first started writing for Farmer’s Weekly in my late 20s, I knew very little about farming. But I soon learnt that almost everything that happened in the world had an impact on farming, and, more importantly, everyone in the world depended on farmers.

Agricultural journalism was, therefore, a wide lens through which to develop a better understanding of everything.

I have learnt to appreciate and respect farmers, to maintain a healthy scepticism of politics and politicians (even the ‘good’ ones), and to study weather patterns rather than weather forecasts.

Also, I am starting to understand that even the best economic models are not foolproof, due to their inability to accurately predict how people will react, and I have realised the importance of balancing the urgency of deadlines with the patience needed for progress.

However, what I am perhaps most grateful for is how my job at Farmer’s Weekly has enriched the relationship that I have with my parents. I have always loved them very much, but after seeing and experiencing the sacrifice, dedication, generosity, perseverance, bravery and faith of other farmers and their families, I started to recognise those qualities, and acknowledge them, more in my own parents.

Farming is never going to be easy, and it will break your heart every time. But judging by all the people whom I have had the good fortune to meet these past 12-and-half years, if it doesn’t break you, farming will make you better. If you are lucky, and if you work hard, it will give you a good, not necessarily wealthy, life, but definitely a rich one.

There have been some difficult times, and the past two years have perhaps been the most challenging. We were not prepared for the monumental upheaval that a global pandemic would unleash on us.

Just as it has been for millions of other people working in other sectors, the impact of COVID-19 on the global economy and life in general dealt a hard blow to the media industry. I am proud and grateful that Farmer’s Weekly survived, and for this I have to give credit to the dedicated team behind the title who, during a time of absolute uncertainty, did the only sensible thing they could by keeping focus and carrying on with their work.

It is this group of people who will continue, as always, to deliver trusted, quality journalism, week after week.

And to you, the reader, thank you for your support, and thank you for all your honest feedback; I have taken courage from the positive comments and grown from the negative ones.

Journalism becomes more powerful when the reader, or the audience, starts speaking out, and I hope that Farmer’s Weekly will continue to be a source of news and information that always listens more than it talks.

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