Farmers Weekly's 80th birthday - Farmers Weekly

Farmers Weekly 80th Anniversary

  • 1930s
  • 1940s
  • 1950s
  • 1960s
  • 1970s
  • 1980s
  • 1990s
  • 2000s
  • 2010s
Farming's champion for 80 years: 1934 - 2014
Timeline: 80 years of Farmers Weekly
1930
1940
1950
1960
1970
1980
1990
2000
2010

1930s

The 1930s were marred by the Great Depression and the declaration of the Second World War. Neville Chamberlain was prime minister. Many farms were without electricity and still using heavy horses to plough the land.

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1940s

The war gave farming a new status; land girls joined farmers to tend the fields, taking on the jobs left by the men who had gone to fight. Everyone was urged to do their bit as the country teetered on bankruptcy. The government introduced the Agriculture Act of 1947, which offered guaranteed prices and assured markets for farmers’ produce.

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1950s

Farm mechanisation was moving up a gear, as were husbandry techniques. It was a decade of experimentation, including aerial spraying, new cattle genetics and the first national weed control conference. Queen Elizabeth II was crowned in 1953 and the first episode of The Archers aired on BBC radio, marking the start of a more positive era.

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1960s

A period of expansion, specialisation and intensification in farming with the rise of the supermarkets and big processors. The familiar foes of foot-and-mouth and snow dealt a blow. The Beatles, Christine Keeler and Twiggy dominated the national media headlines.

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1970s

Farmers were getting to grips with decimalisation and joining the EEC. They were also playing their part in conserving energy during the fuel crisis. Henry Plumb was elected NFU president.

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1980s

This was the Thatcher era. The first issue of Crops was launched. Grain stores across Europe were full to brimming, while famine in Ethiopia gave rise to the Send a Tonne campaign and Bob Geldof’s Live Aid. Edwina Currie caused a complete collapse of egg sales when she claimed they were infected with salmonella. Milk quotas were introduced.

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1990s

Dolly the sheep, the introduction of compulsory set-aside and BSE dominated the decade. As beef sales plummeted, John Gummer tried to bolster consumer confidence by eating a burger in front of the world’s press. Straw burning was banned and the first GM food went on sale.

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2000s

Foot-and-mouth came back with a vengeance, marking a watershed moment in farming history. It led to the postponement of the general election by Tony Blair and the involvement of the armed forces. Precision farming gained a foothold, and Open Farm Sunday began – two highlights in an otherwise challenging decade of market volatility, CAP reform and Margaret Beckett.

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2010s

First, the bad news: Dairy SOS, badger culling and the horrendous harvest of summer 2012. Now the good: Technological advances continue apace. There’s renewed respect for the role of farming in modern society. Social media and mobile technology are transforming the way we work and communicate. Farmers Apprentice is born.

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