Farmer Focus: No time for delay on food and fuel security

Now then, I’ve been on the debating circuit this month, thanks to the Yorkshire Agricultural Society giving me a platform to express my views on regenerative farming.

The event, held at the Pavilions of Harrogate, included a panel of myself, potato and vining pea grower Bradley Sykes, mixed arable and sheep farmer Alastair Trickett, and Aberdeenshire grazier Nikki Yoxall.

See also: ‘Less pork and chicken, more beef and lamb’, says new regen ag report

About the author

Doug Dear
Livestock Farmer Focus writer
Doug Dear farms 566ha (1,400 acres) of arable land growing wheat, spring and winter barley, maize and oilseed rape and runs a custom feedyard, contract-finishing about 2,400 cattle a year near Selby, North Yorkshire. Most cattle are finished over 90-120 days for nine deadweight outlets, as well as Selby and Thirsk markets.
Read more articles by Doug Dear

From my perspective, some of the regenerative panellists were long on rhetoric and threw in a lot of fancy words, but parts of the subject were like blancmange (bland and innocuous).

I think you will find that we are all working with nature, because if we don’t look after our soils and livestock, we don’t have a profitable business.

Needless to say, we are all moving in the same direction, just doing it in a variety of different ways.

One take-home point for me was that while the UK doesn’t have to feed the world, it does have to feed its own population, surely.

As a nation, we are in a perilous state, with agriculture being run into the ground by haughty politicians and arrogant supermarket chiefs.

I’m only a lowly cowpoke, but what I do know is that we need to be able to feed, fuel and defend ourselves.

We are at the tipping point of a new world order, with Putin and Xi’s alliance looking like forming an anti-West pact.

China has great ambitions, building bases in the South China Sea and pursuing the “reunification” of Taiwan.

At this moment, we are very close to falling into the “Thucydides’ Trap”, where an emerging power threatens an existing superpower and increases the risk of war.

Do our leaders not learn from history? Savage defence cuts, no real energy supply, farming on its knees – it looks like we are in the same position as in 1939, living in the phoney war.

Now is the time for action, not dithering: it’s time to get boots on the ground and build resilience into our agricultural, defence and energy sectors.

We haven’t got 10 years to sort all this out; we have dropped below critical mass in all these sectors, and we need decisive action now.