THE cost of rural crime to the UK economy is £44.5 million, according to the NFU Mutual Rural Crime Survey 2013.

Crime is at near-record levels and livestock theft is up by 25 per cent.

The countryside is vulnerable to thieves because many farmers simply cannot afford the cost of CCTV cameras across their land and buildings.

Rustling with the intent to steal hundreds of animals has become big business with extremely well-organised gangs of people taking part in it.

It is believed that most must have previous experience in handling, transporting and butchering meat along with black market links to sell the quantities of meat they have the ability to supply.

The Home Office has made a start to tackling this problem by awarding funds of almost £40,000 to the National Rural Crime Network which will try to look at innovative ways to reduce crime in rural areas, provide information and support for communities and share best practice.

Here’s hoping it will deter criminals from seeing the countryside as a place for easy pickings. September brings shorter days and beautiful colour changes.

The autumn equinox is demonstrated by birds and butterflies migrating southwards to follow the path of the sun and trees and plants are ending this year’s cycle of growth with glorious autumn leaves, or a last burst before winter comes.

Tractors will now replace the furious work of combines as ploughing gets under way to prepare the land for autumn-sown crops and drilling the rape seed now for next year.

September can bring wet and windy conditions that can change quickly, so farmers will keep a close eye on their livestock, particularly to ensure they do not begin to poach productive grassland.

We’ll be watching our beef cattle as larger animals cause much more poaching damage than their young stock or sheep.

Talking of poaching – September is a terrific month for food foragers!

Blackberries, elderberries, rowan berries, chanterelles, inkcaps, chicken of the woods, hops and crab apples to name but a few.

Beans, tomatoes and onions are fresh in season plus lots of fruit, thanks to such a glorious summer.

Here’s hoping the rain stays away as September is a wonderful month for agricultural events.

Alresford Show is on Saturday, September 6 followed by Romsey Show on the 13th.

Taste Wiltshire is being held in Urchfont Village Hall, near Devizes, on September 14 to promote our county’s finest produce and where you will have the chance to meet the 2013 BBC Masterchef winner Natalie Coleman.

The month’s events will be rounded off with Salisbury Food Festival in the Market Square on Sunday, September 21 We’ll be there for them all with our beef so hope to see you there.

A final date for your diary is the annual Salisbury and District Agricultural Club Ploughing Match which is set to take place on Saturday, October 4.

Fingers crossed for good weather.