The Cumbria Agricultural Chaplaincy which runs under the umbrella of Churches Together in Cumbria submitted the following report from the Coordinator Amanda Gorton, to the Representative Synod in April 2022.
A return to the Auction Marts
After an absence of sixteen months due to Covid restriction, our volunteer agricultural chaplains were relieved to return to the auction marts in August 2021.
We currently have ten chaplains covering eight Cumbrian auction marts:
* Broughton-in-Furness – Louise Robinson
* Carlisle – Rev David Newlove
* J36, Kendal – Rev Anne Pettifor, Rev Les Hann, and Rev Marion Mashiter.
* Kirkby Stephen – Donald Marston.
* Lazonby – seasonal – covered by Rev Les Hann in 2021
* Penrith – Joseph Langcake
* Ulverston – Rev Graham Ransom
* Wigton – Rev Phillip Jackson and Alan Fearon
Our newest chaplain, Louise joined our team this month and will be covering Broughton-in-Furness Auction Mart. In the next few months, we look forward to welcoming another new chaplain who will cover Cockermouth Auction Mart.
Thank you to Wilf and Keith who stepped down from their roles as chaplain after several years of service, support and prayers – setting down an important and much appreciated legacy of service.
The current climate – a testing time
Despite relatively steady lamb and beef and recent increases in milk prices these prices are being eroded by soaring input costs greatly affecting the end margin.
All types of agriculture are experiencing a real-time crisis as production and overhead costs soar. The invasion of Ukraine has put increased pressure on the cost of many inputs, especially fuel, fertiliser and animal feed which have been steadily rising since last year. To put this in context, Red Dieselin 2021 stood at 50p per litre. Last month this stood at £1.20 per litrewith deliveries taking up to 5 times as long and prices not being quoted before delivery. We all know the effects of the increase in the pump price on our households, something our farmers will also be feeling the effects of. AmmoniumNitrate fertiliserin 2021 was£260 per tonne, in February 2022 (before Ukraine was invaded) a price of£650 was quoted but new ordersweren't being accepted. Last month this stood at a staggering £940 per tonne. And so to feeding the animals – the off farm wheat price (so before processing for feed)in 2021 was £190-£200 per tonne, and last month this stood at £330-£340 per tonne. You don't need any agricultural experience to work out the impact these prices will have across all types of agriculture. Coupled with the increase in energy costs things are going to be tough.
Our chaplains are already reporting that farmers are selling stock to pay for fertiliser and reduce the load on what will be a reduced grass yield as a result of less fertiliser. Some, consider selling the fertiliser they already have in stock as its value on the open market far outweighs the value of the resulting product. What will this all mean for food production in the UK? Although good sale prices do not protect producers from the effects of increasing production costs and overheads, beef and sheep prices have thankfully been buoyant in 2021/2022. Sale prices, however, will be put under pressure with the reduced tariffs on trade from Australia and New Zealand taking effect towards the end of the year. This could result in something of a perfect storm with gaps created by cuts to the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) which remain unfilled by the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) scheme and other schemes.
Health checks at J36
In August 2022 we were able to resume the monthly well attended and much needed Health Checks held at J36 on busy livestock sale days. These clinics are run by an NHS nurse as part of the Kendal Integrated Care Community, with Anne, Les and Marion providing a listening ear and on the ground support to anyone who may need it.
Agricultural Shows and Expo
For many members of our agricultural and rural community visiting or showing at one of the many Cumbrian Agricultural Shows or more specialised 'Expo' is an incredibly important date and provides our chaplains with the opportunity to meet those we may not see at the marts. In 2021 only one show took place – Westmorland County Show, where we were welcomed by the organisers to walk amongst the crowds and stand alongside volunteers from the Farming Community Network (FCN). Chaplains draw on the specialised help provided by FCN and several of our chaplains are FCN volunteers as well as chaplains. Rev David Newlove, our chair, chaplain at Borderway mart, Carlisle, and FCN volunteer (amongst many other roles) has attended several Expo at Borderway and in doing so is able to stand amongst those in attendance as a chaplain and FCN volunteer.
Continuing to share
March 2022 saw the of reinstatement of the monthly Zoom group hosted by Ministries: Vocations and Worship Team and Cumbria Agricultural Chaplaincy. These meetings provide an opportunity for those involved in agricultural chaplaincy throughout the country to share experiences, offer mutual support, and chat about issues that affect the farming community. Agricultural Chaplaincy meetings take place on the second Wednesday in the month, 9.15am – 10.15am Connecting Chaplains (methodist.org.uk)
Please add our farming and rural communities, our chaplains and management group to your prayers.
Thank you to our chaplains for providing a listening ear to our farming community, and to you for your continued support.
Please don't hesitate to contact me with any queries.
Amanda Gorton – Coordinator
Email email@example.com Mobile 07825424981