Dear Friends,

This weekend we celebrate Harvest Thanksgiving. There has been much discussion recently whether ‘Harvest Festival’ continues to have relevance beyond the agricultural community. Although the obvious enthusiasm of local allotment holders suggests otherwise. ‘Home Grown Fruit & Veg’ being very much the order of the day. The truth is that wherever it comes from, whoever it was who oversaw its production, all of us need food to eat. Accordingly, it is right we take time out to acknowledge how grateful we are – ‘For what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly thankful’ – to all those involved in getting our food to us. But this year, Harvest is being celebrated against what is at best an uncertain backdrop. We are having to get used to half-empty shelves in the supermarkets.  For now, it is a novelty, perhaps a minor irritant. We are still invariably spoiled for choice. None of us is going hungry just yet. But it doesn’t stop us getting frustrated…We hear a lot lately about ‘supply chains.’ It is not that there is an actual shortage of anything. It is more to do with the fact that it is proving increasingly difficult to move produce from one place to another. All of a sudden, it is lorry drivers – or more precisely the lack of lorry drivers – that is the ‘weak link’. We need more of them. Without the ability to move goods from one place to another, there is the very real prospect of large amounts of fresh food being destroyed at source, at great expense to the producer; whilst consumers will be denied the opportunity to purchase the food and so see to it that the producer is fairly rewarded…If we are honest, until now, most if not all of us would not have given a second thought to how our food gets to us. We have always assumed it will be there when we want it, at a price we can afford…It is ironic in that we hear an awful lot about cutting out the middle man, or woman. We encourage each other to do for ourselves when previously we might have paid a high price to have someone do it for us. And in many cases, this have proved an invaluable exercise. But at times like this we are made to realise that there are some things we just cannot do for ourselves; for which we need others to do for us. Those folk who are always whispering in our ears, ‘you only notice us when we are not there.’ The present crises have turned the spotlight on HGV lorry drivers but there are a whole ‘army’ of people who are working ceaselessly to ensure the smooth running of society as far as the rest of us are concerned…And so, at this Harvest season, and prompted by what is happening, it might be appropriate for us to concentrate our ‘thank yous’ on those who are the ‘links’ in the chain. Those whom, as we are presently realising, we cannot do without. And more than that, to acknowledge that they too are worthy of their hire. As producers and consumers, we conspire to bring about a ‘low cost’, ‘low price’ economy. To make it happen, the ones ‘in the middle’ get squeezed. May be its time that they too were amply rewarded for their efforts, even if it is at our expense. Anyway, who would have thought that Harvest Festival Thanksgiving would focus attention on Truckers? There is a first for everything!

We need more of them