Yesterday was my day for working in the shop in Exeter. Inevitably I talked with customers about foot and mouth.

I must say I’m surprised at the lack of understanding shown by a few urban dwellers. Some look at me a little strangely when I mention the strain ‘us country folk’ are under at the moment. I’m very aware that in some quarters farmers have bad press, being thought of as greedy, money-grabbing, moaning, fat-cat crooks out to swindle their own grandmothers if necessary. I dare say there are some pretty despicable individuals, just as in any industry, but the majority of us are caring hard working people doing the best we can, often in isolated and lonely environments, with little support or encouragement. So please listen to my story and you may begin to understand.

My animals are of the utmost importance to me as is my farm and all it nurtures. My cattle and sheep aren’t just for killing. It’s their living that is vital to me. They are what gives the farm its meaning, everything revolves around them – the soils, the flowers and birds, nature, and, of course, me and my family. It’s much, much more than just the end product that’s significant, it’s a way of life, an ancient connection between man, beast and land – the rich, intricate, web of life.

Having said that, the beef and lamb I sell is produced with the highest welfare standards possible and the quality is of the best – I believe happy animals and living soils make the finest food. I care, care hugely, and I’m involved in every aspect of my animals and farm…I’m not alone in that.

Next time those of you that raise an eyebrow and think ‘Oh yes? wretched farmers moaning, groaning. Going on and on yet again.’ ‘What are they so worried about?’ Please take a moment to reflect. And maybe begin to understand that many of us do farm with our heart and soul.