Vice President's Blog - 26 April 2018

“How’s your soil and your mind?” asks Vice President Gary Mitchell.

The soil is one of the most important ingredients to agriculture, no matter which sector you’re in, and the abuse it has taken from excess rain over the last nine months is unbelievable and, in many areas, is still ongoing.

Winter crops that did get sown have come through winter reasonably well but the north/south divide on spring sowing is vast with the Borders furthest behind at a time when they are normally well ahead.

At home, I’m really frustrated with the amount wet hollows in fields especially where major drainage work was done last summer.  Basically, the topsoil is capped so now I am waiting patiently on a digger coming soon!

Ph levels will be another issue going forward if rainfall remains at these kinds of levels and that will be another subject for Scottish Government’s weather advisory panel to get their teeth into.

While the weather is hugely challenging, we must get our priorities right.

When was the last time you sat or chatted with a fellow farmer and asked: “How’s your mind?”

We hear the subject of good mental health spoken about a lot these days, but we still believe it’s someone else’s problem.

The presidential team of Andrew, Martin and myself met rural charity RSABI a few weeks ago for an update on the current situation and the age range of people they are helping.

I was, first, shocked to hear of men in my own age range between 40 and 50 who are feeling really depressed and downbeat about where their business is and fearing failure but when I looked back over the last 2 years at my own situation, I could relate to this.

Sad, I know, but we as farmers are very good at sharing negativity – it’s like we have a degree with honours on this great subject!

I often feel our roll in the union is like being a doctor.  How many people phone their GP to tell them I’m feeling great today?

I will be honest.  I would rather have a farmer call me for a rant on what he’s unhappy about than thinking about those who can’t bring themselves to pick up the phone.

Paul Simon wrote a song called ‘The Sound of Silence’ and the line that sticks in my mind is “silence like a cancer grows”.  This so true.

So, firstly, do you know a farming friend or neighbour in this category?

RSABI has lots of advice available on its website or by calling the confidential helpline - 0300 111 4166 – on how you can identify or help someone discreetly to get help.

So how do we gauge how we are doing? Is it the state of our bank account, quality of our livestock or crops? At the end of the day, job satisfaction is the most important and I would ask anyone to ask themselves are you achieving that?

If not, then please take the time to talk to someone or an organisation like RSABI where they do a fantastic job.

Personally, have found being part of a small benchmarking group where you share everything about the business - warts and all - a great benefit to me financially and mentally.

My new-found positivity this year in the union is working with the “Next Generation Group” where I hope all the negative mistakes I’ve made in the past can be put to a positive use in making sure the Next Gen don’t do the same.

I would not be doing this role if I didn’t firmly believe NFUS can make a difference.  It frustrates me at times that we can’t achieve things quicker, but patience is a virtue. I genuinely see a great future, but it will be different from the past.

Author: Gary Mitchell

Date Published:

< Article List


Report Abusive Comment

Comment Content:

Why it offends me (optional):

Have Your Say

Lorraine G Luescher

2186 days ago

You're right to explore this topic Gary. People tend to turn in on themselves when things get tough, and most find it difficult to express feelings of failure and to seek help. People lambing sheep in the hills just now are struggling because as a result of the prolonged snow cover many ewes have come in in poor condition and are unable to rear their lambs. The effect of this, both financially and emotionally, is never going to be easy to discuss.
New Comment


Total Pages:
Total Results:
Page Start:
Page Result #:

Quick Contact

Which Region do you live in?  
Are you a member of NFU Scotland?  

This form collects and sends the information supplied to NFU Scotland. You can read our privacy policy for full details on how we protect and manage your data.
  I consent to having NFU Scotland collect the above details.

Registred Address

NFU Scotland
Head Office
Rural Centre - West Mains
Ingliston, Midlothian
EH28 8LT

Place of registration: Scotland

Company Registration Number: SC214564

Tel: 0131 472 4000

NFU Mutual Logo

Get the App

NFUS App QR Code

©NFU Scotland • All Rights Reserved • Web design by Big Red DigitalLog in


Contact Us




No Robots:

This form collects and sends the information supplied to NFU Scotland. You can read our privacy policy for full details on how we protect and manage your data.
  I consent to having NFU Scotland collect the above details.