‘Down on the Farm’, Farmers deliver thrice daily!

By Martin Howlett

Blame the recent prolonged hot spell of weather, of which most probably and for many of us as much in desperation, will have broken with rainfall in time for Glastonbury ’23, we in farming continue to receive mixed messages to accompany the hot air coming from both Government and Supermarkets alike, as promises last as long as an ice cream at the seaside in this glorious summer sun. Fresh from the inaugural No 10 ‘Farm to Fork’ Summit, which promised to address the dual issues of the imbalance in the food production chain by means of strengthening the powers of the Grocery Code Adjudicator/Ombudsman as well as producing an annual ‘UK Food Security Report’ to meet a minimum 60% self-sufficiency target. The spectacle – and the importance – of all key players coming together with the Prime Minister was, ironically, further highlighted by TV Celebrity Farmworker Caleb Cooper (of ‘Clarkson’s Farm’ fame) whose most timely reminder that …’you may only need a Solicitor once in your lifetime and see a doctor once a year, but everyone depends upon a farmer three times a day for food’ clearly hit the nail on the head. So, it seems somewhat bizarre that just a few weeks later plans emerged for a price fixing cap on essential foods. This was met with industry-wide condemnation and outright rejection from the major supermarket retailers, despite food inflation topping 20%. Such intervention in the market has not been proposed since the early 1970’s Economic Crisis, before the UK’s entry into the then EC Common Market. Today UK farm businesses – now post-Brexit – are in a far different situation and are increasingly at the mercy of a global free market as well as partway through the transition from the Basic Payment Funded Farm Support. They are being encouraged to restructure and improve productivity, not be price-capped by intervention control measures. However, welcome news for our local hard-working family farms comes from the full support of our own Cornwall Council, through their endorsement of Cornish Agriculture by rejecting calls for an anti-meat/pro-plant-based policy that has been adopted by several up-country local authorities. A motion to promote seasonal & local produce, explicitly including meat & dairy products, at council events, plus urging local residents to shop locally and take advantage of home-grown, affordable, nutritious food (irrespective of dietary preferences), was passed with full support. A most welcome dose of local common sense despite the seasonal heat and hot air from some in authority, with a clear message to enjoy the ‘Best of British’ this summertime and a timely intervention to back young Caleb in his reminder that all farmers continue to deliver thrice daily ‘Down on the Farm’. 

Photo Credit: Rowena Swallow