Farmer Focus: Shout about farmers’ vital role

Now is the time to stand up and be counted. Don’t delay, get that letter written to your MP about where you want your farm business to be in five years time. Leaving it to the CLA, TFA, NFU or even to fate this time just will not work. 

I’ve done my bit.Lots of letters, a MP visit to the farm, trips to London and I even attempted to engage with the dreaded BBC – fat lot of good that did. 

See also: Read more from our Arable Farmer Focus writers

At least I will have the satisfaction of knowing I tried and gave it my best shot. And when the hard work begins as we have to restructure, battle our way through yet another raft of new rules or just pack it all in, I will at the very least have the limited satisfaction of being able to say I told you so. 

I suggest we all wake up from the nightmare that is feeding the press frenzy and engage positively with as many people as possible.

Most importantly, we must work our magic on those from outside farming and remind everyone we see just how vital the food on their table is, who produced it and how good it is. 

Food shortages

Let us remind them not to forget the lessons of history, when food ran into short supply. 

I’m not talking about the last century when the world faced significant threats, I am talking about 10 years ago when we saw food price inflation increase to politically unacceptable levels. That seemed to sharpen a few minds and food security started to figure in their thinking.

It wasn’t at all bad for us. I have not forgotten how we benefited when wheat went to more than £200/t. However, is that a risk the retailers and government want to take again? 

Aspirations of protecting and enhancing the environment are a given – that’s what farmers do day in day out. But we can only do that, of course, if we are profitable. 

A productive, viable farm will deliver more. The only real reason farmers took their eyes of that ball in the past was as a result of what those in government asked us to do, and they must get it right this time. 

We know you can’t just switch land on and off – others must remember this fact.

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.

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