TV presenter turned farmer Jeremy Clarkson has revealed he is an avid reader of Farmers Weekly – the UK’s leading farming publication.
Writing in his latest column for The Sunday Times Magazine, Mr Clarkson says: “I spend every single evening with my nose buried in a copy of the countryside bible – Farmers Weekly. It’s my new favourite thing.”
Mr Clarkson has been working for more than a year on an eight-part TV series for Amazon Prime, called I Bought the Farm, which will look at his attempts to run a mixed 400ha farming enterprise in the Oxfordshire countryside.
The Grand Tour host has been delighting his army of fans with frequent social media posts detailing the ups and downs of his experiences in his first year of farming during the coronavirus pandemic, which he has described as a “disaster”.
In his latest column, published on Sunday (25 October), Mr Clarkson admits: “I didn’t think farming would be this difficult.
“I figured that man has been growing crops for 12,000 years and that after such a long period it would be in our DNA. That it would be relaxing. Monty Donnish even.
“I’d plant seeds, weather would happen and food would grow.”
He adds: “I have learnt, however, that all of it is back-breaking and difficult, that there’s never time for a ploughman’s in the sunshine, that there’s no cupholders in my tractor for sundowners or anything else, and that to be a farmer you must be an agronomist, a meteorologist, a mechanic, a vet, an entrepreneur, a gambler, a workaholic, a politician, a marksman, a midwife, a tractor driver, and an insomniac.”
Mr Clarkson admits to being “none of these” and says this is why he spends so much time reading Farmers Weekly.
“I especially love the fertiliser and the machinery adverts, because they all feature fiftysomething men and they’re all wearing checked shirts and zip-up gilets made from a material that exists only in agricultural supply shops,” he writes.
“I want to buy everything they’re advertising because it all looks so manly and proper.”
But Mr Clarkson concedes that he is still learning about the complexities of the farming vernacular. “I’m up to my ears in agri-jargon and I don’t understand a word,” he admits.
He says: “I know terms such as lift-off oversteer and axle tramp and torque steer and scuttle shake… For most people though, this kind of language is gobbledygook.”
But he adds: “Simplification isn’t actually necessary in Farmers Weekly, because the readers don’t need the jargon translated.
“When they read that ex-farm spot wheat values are averaging £175.60/t midweek, they know what the words mean. Me though? Not a clue.”
Mr Clarkson says other farmers stop him in the street and ask him questions on topics such as the moisture content of his wheat, or if he agrees with a carbon tax on farmers who finish their cattle after 27 months.
“I want to learn how to speak farming, but I have no idea how this is possible,” he jokes.
On a more serious note, Mr Clarkson says post-Brexit it is now “very obvious that farmers are going to have to adopt a much more scientific approach to survive with dwindling government grants”.
He says: “I think there are a lot of farmers like me who are bewildered and even a bit frightened by what they must do to survive.
“And I think you, round your breakfast table, should be worried too.”
In February, the former Top Gear presenter opened the Diddly Squat Farm Shop at his Cotswolds farm with an Instagram post claiming he would “put the supermarkets out of business. Bye, bye Aldi!”
But after a difficult year in farming due to weather extremes, like so many farmers, Mr Clarkson has admitted that things have not gone exactly to plan – and he has been forced to buy in stock from local farmers to increase supplies in his farm shop alongside goods produced on his holding.
I Bought the Farm is set to air on Amazon Prime later this year.