Farmer Focus: Farming looks easy when your plough is a pencil

The new year has brought fresh hope to some of us in the North. In Ryedale, the weather has been kinder, some root crops have actually been harvested and even wheat has been drilled, in surprisingly good conditions.

Meanwhile, future cereal prices keep inching up, making me wonder when the true cost of the wet autumn will hit home and those future prices will rocket.

Many crops really aren’t looking brilliant in the fields at the moment, so it’s anyone’s guess what a good forward price should be.

See also: How to control phoma disease in oilseed rape crops

I’m no ardent royalist, but I feel a certain gratitude towards Harry et al, because the media has been so full of Windsor bust-up stories that minority eating campaigns, pointing blame at livestock farming, almost disappeared in January.

But it still seems to be open season for farmer-bashing in general. We get the blame for so many problems — when all we are really trying to do is feed the world – and we’re doing it pretty effectively.

It’s easy to criticise and sound righteous when you have a full belly, fridge and larder.

How come, for example, the aviation industry and the big supermarket chains largely escape the heat? Flying food around the globe to fulfil diet fads just isn’t sustainable.

Agriculture Bill

Farmers produce food; others in the supply chain are responsible for transporting, packaging and marketing it, at whatever cost to the planet.

We definitely need more balance and maybe the new Agricultural Bill will provide it.

The finer details are, of course, still lacking, and I only hope there isn’t a conference hall somewhere full of campaigners and quangocrats dreaming up ways to make the whole thing as complicated as possible.

President Eisenhower once said: “Farming looks easy when your plough is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles away from the nearest corn field.”

If the UK really wants to lead the West, or even the world, with sustainable agriculture policies that work with the environment, we need plain common-sense leadership.

That means recognising that we’re not here just to keep this land green and pleasant, but also to feed its people.

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