Farmer Focus: Will Howe meets fans at Cereals

I think I must have the farming equivalent of a face for radio, based on my experience at the recent Open Farm Sunday.

Having been rehearsing some grand rhetoric to bellow at the public about low prices, high costs, and a general feeling of discontent over Obama’s handling of the BP crisis, the local NFU chairman quickly informed me that my role was not to talk to anyone and just drive the tractor. And preferably to return with as many punters as I set off with.

Joking aside, the day went exceptionally well and was a credit to the host and all the local farmers who helped prepare the day. If just a few of the public went away with a better understanding of agriculture, it was worth the effort.

A few days before, thousands of us boarded buses for Cereals. I spent an enjoyable day catching up with new and old acquaintances and even the odd fan of my column – I couldn’t believe it either. But you do seem to end up with countless glossy brochures of machines you can neither justify nor afford.

You can now pay £10,000/m(???) for a machine that does little more than a Jethro Tull could have cobbled together for 18 shillings and the guarantee of prima nocta with your youngest daughter. That said, I did book two direct drill demonstrations having been mightily impressed by a “no-till” farm tour hosted by a local farmer.

After the good attendances of these other events, it was disappointing that we struggled to get four 13-16 year olds to attend a tractor driving course we hosted. All those who participated seemed to enjoy it and will hopefully be safer for the experience, although one lad was driving the chicane course like a crazed Jenson Button, resulting in a few damaged cones.

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