Farmer Focus: Let’s respond to ‘farmer bashing’ with science

When I first started contributing to this column, a good friend told me to stay away from politics and stick to writing about the farm.

Good advice, which I have been following. However, recently I find myself getting more and more angry about our industry being knocked and the apparent lack of coverage the responses from our farmer leaders get.

When you listen to some commentators, farmers are the worst of humanity and are virtually solely responsible for the destruction of the planet.  

Some “London-centric” radio shows seem to virtually have a weekly “bash the farmer” slot, with some ridiculous claims that seem never to be properly challenged. 

See also: How to deal with animal activists on social media

We and our industry leaders must respond to scientific argument with scientific argument – forget the “custodians of the land” stuff.

People seem to have forgotten that farmers are food producers and all life forms need food. We should be proud to be farmers – without farmers everyone will have to go back to being hunters and gatherers.

The world population is expected to rise from 7.6 billion to 9.8 billion by 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100. Is anyone considering how we are going to feed all these people?  

We produce some of the best food here on these two little islands, but we are still not getting the support of the general public, who it would appear just want the cheapest they can buy from the supermarket, imported or not.

Surely this has a massive environmental cost.

A piece of beef or lamb reared on fresh, lush grass, slaughtered locally, sold in a local butcher surely has much lower carbon footprint than a piece of beef shipped from halfway around the world and packaged in a huge amount of plastic.  

Likewise, what is the carbon footprint of all the fresh fruit and veg flown into this country from warmer climates to satisfy the demand for out-of-season produce? 

To feed the rising population we need to produce more food. As a country and an industry, we should be looking to become as self-sufficient, sustainable and environmentally friendly as we can be.