Tom Chanter: Cheap meat seekers should value UK food more

Several hundred more grey hairs later and a completely worn-out bucket brush, and maize harvest 2019 is complete.

The last tyre ceremoniously placed on the clamp sheet to mark the end of the farming year for us and… the start of another one.

We have a mammoth task ahead of us, which is to try to plant something in the maize stubbles that is proving somewhat difficult with the weather.

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The forecast is not pretty but, by hook or by crook, seed will enter soil and something positive, fingers crossed will happen.

One bit of news in the world of farming that I am delighted about is the UK-China trade deal for beef.

OK, it’s taken them nearly 30 years to break the deadlock after the BSE crisis (hopefully, the same team aren’t in charge of the Brexit negotiations) and OK, it only works out to be about 40,000 cattle a year, but whoever has been involved in this deal has done a good job.

Cheap meat seekers

It’s a start and, all being well, it should grow and grow but, most importantly, it should give the dealmakers and other countries the confidence to trade food with us.

Now, in theory we shouldn’t have to do these deals but it seems that because British consumers are so hellbent on buying cheap food, farmers are going to need to export their produce abroad more where consumers prize British food and value is added to products; a lesson to all who seek cheap meat.

The celebration of food production has never been so poignant as it is now with the harvest festival.

I, along with hundreds of other farmers, attended at Exeter Cathedral for a service organised by the NFU and Devon YFC.

Apart from the badger cull protesters outside the cathedral (who I initially thought were kids dressed up in Halloween costumes, but were actually adults dressed up as badgers), it was a great service, with the choir drowned out during We plough the fields and scatter.

Model of restraint

Mind you, at the time of writing, I have done no ploughing and certainly no scattering.

It got me thinking if only your average food shopper could see the hard work, passion and dedication that gets put into producing food then perhaps they will pay more for it.

For me, nothing demonstrated the passion for farming more than seeing hundreds of farmers gathered in that cathedral to celebrate the closing of another chapter.

Luckily, the protesters didn’t distract from the service and the only time I heard from them was when I was leaving and one of them shouted “shame on you”.

Had I been at the communion wine a bit more I probably would have shouted something back, instead I enjoyed a brief moment on the moral high ground and kept my mouth shut.