Shows have little to do with day to day agriculture

Not that I wish to spoil the feel-good factor for organisers of the Highland show which attracted an attendance of almost 180,000 over its recent four-day run at Ingliston but some visitors thought the £25 daily entrance charge was steep.

Particularly, said one first-time visitor from the city, when once inside you’re faced with over-priced food and drink and higher prices for many goods on offer than you’d pay in shops or online.

I know how he feels, but in my long experience of the Highland show, or any other event with a captive audience, it was ever thus. Look at Wimbledon for starters, a food and drink rip off if ever there was one. Or visit any cinema near you for extortionate comestibles prices. Or, so I’m told, any popular outdoor event such as Glastonbury music festival; the popularity escapes me, but the scale of prices for anything eatable, drinkable, smokeable, snortable or wearable doesn’t.

And when tickets for events such as rock concerts by geriatrics or anodyne violinists start at £90 and over £200 isn’t uncommon, is £25 for up to ten hours at the Highland, if you can last the pace, out of the way? Think how things could be worse – you might have spent thousands on attending any World Cup game involving England. And the Highland show organisers need simply ask if 180,000 visitors can all be wrong.

Back in the real world of farming, because even after all these years I can never bring myself to believe that the hoopla of pedigree livestock showing, showjumping, political grandstanding and contrived media events have much to do with day to day agriculture, the weather continues mainly dry at time of writing. Too dry, say some, with many grain growers getting twitchy the closer they get to harvest. Winter barley fields in some areas have changed colour rapidly in the past week or two and when that happens can the early starters with combines be far behind?

Apart from helping boost attendance at the Highland show and give silage makers a clear run the dry, mainly warm, June made sheep shearing more of a pleasure than it is in wet or cold weather. Not necessarily for the shearers, who always have my admiration for being able to bend their backs almost permanently, but for those helping by collecting sheep for shearing, rolling and packing fleeces, making the tea and offering encouragement. And for the sheep of course.

There has also been a little encouragement on prices with the British Wool Marketing Board guide prices for this year’s clip up 10p per kilo and more. For example, actual values for last year’s Cheviot wool was £1.25 per kilo, forecast this year £1.37; Blackface value last year 96p, this year’s forecast £1.05; Texel/Lleyn last year £1.15, this year’s forecast £1.26. Not a fortune for fleeces weighing a kilo or so, but every little helps.