I am going to make no bones about it: I am going to have a moan – sometimes I think farming kicks you when you are down, and then kicks you again.
My first moan is at Mother Nature. Why when we have droughts in Russia and deluges in Australia, does she conspire to give us the driest spring in western Europe since records began. Thanks for that – as if wheat prices were not high enough.
Second moan is at the BBC. I’ve just watched Countryfile about rising wheat costs and its impacts. Does the programme choose a livestock farmer to explain the impacts? No, it picks Morrisons, which uses the opportunity to plug bread prices.
Third moan is at the Women’s Institute and its misguided mission to ban factory farms. I describe my farm to visitors as a factory, as the raw material goes in and a finished pig walks out. The more efficiently I operate, the less money I lose. That sounds like a factory to me I just have living components, but doesn’t mean we’re cruel.
When will people realise the farms they read about when they were growing up do not exist. Thanks to modern farming practices we still have cheap food, so much so that disposing of the waste food costs £550m-plus a year. Surely, WI ladies, that’s a better cause to take on.
Last moan is at the Soil Association’s campaign against Midland Pig Producers (MPPs) new farm near Derby. We need projects like MPPs to keep the critical mass of pigs in this country at a level that sustains a competitive processor base. The Soil Association statement that “350 of the smallest pig farms could lose all their sales if pork from Foston hits the market” is just ludicrous. This farm would supply direct to a couple of large processors, the aforementioned 350 small farms, with about eight sows each would supply friends and neighbours for their freezer. Where is the competition from that?
Andrew Freemantle farms 300 sows on 28ha (70 acres) near Exeter, Devon. He sells 130 pigs a week with 85 going to abattoirs and the rest supplying their farm shop, pork wholesale business and catering trailers. Andrew was Farmers Weekly Pig farmer of the Year 2008.