Consumer food values must change, says Robert Craig

I don’t remember when we last had to house the milking herd in September, but a combination of monsoon-like conditions and disappointing grass growth have forced the cows in at nights since the last few days of September. Hopefully, this will enable day-time grazing to continue for at least another six weeks, although this will be highly dependant on there being much less rainfall during the coming weeks.

The cubicle refurbishment work is almost complete at Dolphenby, although in contrast to the situation at our home farm we’re unlikely to need to house any stock on the second unit until much later in the year.

Both farms have seen similar growth rates during the late summer period, but a much lower stocking rate and slightly lower rainfall has enabled grazing to continue successfully with little or no damage to the ground.

I was recently invited to listen to a presentation from one of our local MPs, who just happens to be chair of the All-Party Food and Drink Manufacturing Group. He commented on how he would like to see the food industry becoming the career choice of top graduates and how we needed to change the image of the industry to attract more young talent. It’s no great surprise that the food industry looks unattractive to youngsters when our product – so efficiently produced and so precious at one end of the chain – becomes so valueless and wasted at the other. This is the real issue we face as food producers and until the way our consumers value their food changes, farming or food manufacturing as a profession will continue to be second choice for many.

Robert Craig, 41, farms a 440ha of almost all grass split between two units in north-east Cumbria. A passionate grassland farmer, Robert is a 2012 Nuffield scholar and former Cumbria NFU Chairman.

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