Jill Thorp: Farmers are tired of being told they are to blame for climate change

If you leave your car running in the garage overnight and sleep next to it, you’ll be dead in the morning. If you put five cows, five sheep and five pigs in the garage overnight and sleep next to them, you will warm and alive. We need to get real about the effects of these gases.

Jill Thorp writes for The Yorkshire Post every weekend. Picture by Gary Longbottom.

Not my words, but those of a New Zealand farmer, tired of being continuously blamed for global warming. I also learnt recently that depending on the time of day and year, there are 8,000 to 20,000 planes mid flight at any given moment. Yet the accusatory finger of blame for rising temperatures, extreme weather and flooding seems to be pointed firmly in the direction of farmers.

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I’m tired of being told we as farmers are responsible for so much damage, that it is us that must cease our environmentally destructive ways. What short memories the general public seem to have. Have we not fed a nation for generations, even during times of crisis?

Without the labours of farmers, the country would have been starved into submission during the First World War, but still the criticism rains down on us.

As hill farmers we are told to re-wet the uplands, block up the drains and gullies to prevent flooding. But when that bucket becomes full, that sponge saturated, where will the water go then?

As with all things, change is inevitable and we must constantly strive to move forward and improve our ways. Paul and I spend many a night discussing future plans for the farm, what direction to take that will leave things in good stead for John-William if he chooses to take on the tenancy one day.

We’ve come up with all sorts of weird and wonderful diversification ideas in an attempt to pay the bills, but have yet to fall on one that will work for us. With the general public’s increasing disinterest in the traceability and source of food, I’m desperate to find a way to educate the next generation before our wonderful agricultural industry is damaged beyond repair.

At Stott Hall Farm we are constantly looking at ways to encourage and improve the diversity of wildlife. As part of Yorkshire Water’s Beyond Nature initiative, any ideas that will benefit the surrounding moorlands and wildlife that lives there, are welcomed.

Over the next eight years, Yorkshire Water hope to plant 1m trees on their land and some of those, although hopefully not all, will be planted at Stott Hall. Further hedgerows will be created around the meadows and native deciduous saplings will soon start to fill gullies.

So as I, the much maligned farmer, sit down and go over the Woodland Trust plans to aid carbon sequestration, Joe Public is busy eating his burger of imported Brazilian beef, with no regard for the welfare standards of said beef or the immense environmental vandalism that was carried out to raise that beef, whilst waiting to board a flight to go on yet another holiday, with little to no care about his own hypocrisy.