Farmer Focus: Rural broadband frustration grows

Decision day is getting near, the day when we will know if any single party has sufficient parliamentary seats to lead us for the next five years. Or might it just turn into more chaos than usual.

As farmers should we really be concerned about this? After all, we now take the price set by the world market and rules of trade put together by the EU rather than from our own island nation.

See also: Read more from our arable Farmer Focus writers

Most parties have stated that at least one of their ambitions is to grow UK food production. All very good and just what we need, but how do they propose to deliver this? As usual I suppose it depends on the small print.

Some parties have suggested we must source food for local authorities and government departments from the UK. Does that really mean they will be obliged to purchase British food? Of course it doesn’t. It only means the food has to come from a UK supplier. It is all very confusing, especially if you are a shopper buying produce with a Union Jack on it.

One of my asks to the new government is to urgently sort the rural communications issue – get the broadband and mobile phone service providers to offer us something for our money.

I have been so frustrated lately. A fiber optic cable has been installed through the village and along the road right in front of our house, but we can’t access it. Believe it or not, it is supplying two neighboring villages here in Suffolk, but because we are supplied via a Norfolk exchange, we don’t qualify for help from Suffolk Council.

In my attempt to stick two fingers up to them I have tried a satellite system. It is very expensive and doesn’t really deliver what it promises – or maybe that was just when we used it to complete our Basic Payment Scheme form via the Rural Payments Agency’s online system.

On the land it’s been a fantastic time to get crops in the ground, although the sharp frosts have kept the lid on growth. And with the irrigators running from the middle of April, I dare say we could soon do with some rain.

Andrew Blenkiron

Andrew Blenkiron manages the 4,400ha Euston Estate, south of Thetford. Principal farm enterprises are combinable and root crops, including sugar beet. In addition the estate supports let land, sheep, outdoor pigs, poultry, suckler cows, horses and stewardship.