This reflection was written by Regional Support Officer Rachael Aka, and read out during our FCN National Celebration Event at Cheltenham Racecourse on 26 October 2022:
Change is part of life! In fact change is a key element of farming. The success of a harvest
depends on changes in weather happening at the opportune time. Change is inevitable!
But there are changes that can be forced upon us and changes against our will. We face changes
in finances because of job loses or policy changes, changes in personal relationships because of
breakdown or loss. Changes to routine because of sickness or injury. Change is inevitable.
Change, whether it is planned or not, can be unsettling – any farmer going through lambing will tell you how exhausting and draining it is, despite them planning it! Change can bring with it great anxiety, great concern and an overwhelming sense of life happening to oneself, rather than one being in control and living life! Change at times can feel like survival not living, even when change is good, or when change is necessary!
Over the past 27 years FCN has seen great change. Farmers have faced great changes with greater challenging changes ahead. Change can cause us to ask questions, sometimes to seek answers, sometimes simply rhetorical in their anguish. But one thing that is certain in life, is change.
Life can be uncertain, life can be precarious, and perhaps there is no element of society today that understands that more than farmers and their families, and those of us who support them! In the bible there is a very famous passage, written by Solomon about change.
In Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 it reads this:
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
In this book of Ecclesiastes King Solomon writes as one seeking meaning and purpose in life.
He’d seen an awful lot of life, of love and women! He enjoyed whatever money could buy and
experienced the vanity of human ambition and the limitations of human knowledge and wisdom.
Yet in all this he points to one constant in a life of full of distortion, inequity, limitation and change.
His constant was his belief in God. One who is ever present and ever faithful.
FCN was established 27 years ago because of hope in a constant God in the face of extreme
adversity, change and death, during foot and mouth. Farmers faced the destruction of livestock
and the efforts of sometimes generations of their own family being lost; some even facing the loss
of the farming way of life. FCN was birthed out of a season of devastating change to offer hope
and an empathetic ear to those in distress.
27 years later the roots of this conviction need to hold true as one certainty remains constant –
that change is inevitable and change is often painful.
For those of us with a strong Christian conviction, our faith, our God, remains a constant in the
face of change and adversity. It is He who is our Source of Peace in the most turbulent of times
FCN has seen much change over the years and looking ahead the farming community will face
great changes in the future, some very immediate with troubling effects. As we look to move
forward together, in spite of the adversity facing the farming industry and population, we want to
do so standing together.
Having a solid foundation is essential to building and being strong and steadfast to weather any
Change is inevitable but solidarity in the face on oncoming storms brings mutual support.
I want to leave you with the image of emperor penguins in Antarctica.
As temperatures change and drop to -40 the young are born! As storms set in the brood poach
isn’t enough to keep the young warm and even the adults begin to struggle with the changing
temperatures. With a single purpose the penguins convene on the same central point and lock
tightly together in a packed group. This group isn’t elitist nor exclusive and can be up to 4,000.
The pack shifts and rotates in waves, with even the penguins in the centre having to move so they
don’t get too hot (up to 37 degrees)! This solidarity ensures as many penguins as possible survive
the harsh storms of an Antarctica winter!
Solidarity and unity are a force to be reckoned with in the face of any storm!
We want to thank you all for joining us today to celebrate and show solidarity with FCN. Looking
forward we are thankful to work together and we hope we can work with greater solidarity and
unity to support all farmers and farming families to do what they do best, in feeding this nation as
being custodians of the land.