I took up my role as Chief Executive Officer with FCN in January 2020, before we knew the pandemic would spread as far and wide as it has and before we could have predicted how it would impact our day-to-day lives and the global economy.
So much can change within the space of a year, and we’ve all had to adapt and make difficult decisions for the greater good of society. Now, as we are finally leaving lockdown and seeing life return to some degree of normalcy, we are all reevaluating the things that are important to us. I think it is safe to say that none of us will be taking things for granted that we perhaps once did, such as meeting friends or visiting family. This ordeal has reminded us of the importance of friends, of family and of looking out for one another. We have seen this year in particular how faith can provide guidance during challenging times and give people hope and comfort.
With renewed optimism for the future, we must not forget that there is still great uncertainty in farming, and many farmers and their families are facing a challenging road ahead during this period of transition and transformation. FCN is implementing our new five-year strategy to ensure we’re changing to meet the needs of our industry. While there is little doubt that the farming community will continue to experience significant change and restructuring in the coming years, FCN remains steadfast in supporting those in need. Together we face the future with hope, optimism and a renewed commitment to serve those who seek our support.
Having seen the amazing things our farming community and the wider public have achieved over the past year, it has become increasingly clear that there are few limits to what communities can accomplish when we come together. This is demonstrated through the generosity of those who support FCN and the dedication of those volunteering with our charity. We have a great team of volunteers, staff and trustees; an excellent reputation in our pastoral and practical support to the farm community; and an increasing national profile.
Demand on our services is expected to increase further in response to transition plans, reductions in BPS payments, ELMs and other environmental initiatives, as well as climate change and market volatility. During this difficult period we have been reminded of the need to listen to others. FCN’s volunteers provide this essential service, offering empathy and support to those in need.
Over the coming months FCN will be supporting a range of local projects which will help us to re-engage with the farming community and reconnect with those around us as we leave lockdown. FCN County Groups in England and Wales are in the process of developing proposals for engaging with local farmers and farming families once Covid-19 restrictions have lifted. This project is supported by The Mercer Charitable Foundation, which was set up in 2018 to support local and national issues, focusing on education, healthcare and community. We are keen to work with other organisations on developing plans to interact and engage with local farming communities for the remainder of the year.
I am delighted with the successes FCN has seen this year. We have been working in a very different way, but we have been doing anything but standing still – we’ve been involved in so many projects, campaigns and initiatives and have worked closely with a broad array of organisations all united by a common interest in supporting our great farming community. There is further change on the horizon, but by working together, I am confident we can manage it. Farmers are some of the most resilient people you can meet, and I have confidence we will weather this storm and emerge from the other side ready to farm another day.
I would like to give my sincere thanks to all our staff, volunteers and board members for their time, effort and vital support and to all our generous donors and funders.
– Jude McCann, Chief Executive Officer, FCN