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Farming Matters: Phil Garnham - 'Some heroes wear tractor overalls and worn out wax jackets'

At the end of February, a Government Minister made the warm and friendly remark that Britain does not need its own farming industry.

Phil Garnham is a grain trader and agricultural recruitment expert who lives on the family farm.
Phil Garnham is a grain trader and agricultural recruitment expert who lives on the family farm.

Prior to that, the mainstream media was reporting on a near daily basis of what damage ’modern agriculture’ was doing to the planet.

 

Even the BBC had to be taken to task by the AHDB over its statement that reducing meat was the single biggest way to reduce consumers impact on the planet.

 

Add to that the constant criticism from the likes of George Monbiot and Ben Goldsmith about how awful we are for the countryside; is it any wonder UK Farmers felt unwanted, unloved and under the kosh?

 

Earlier in the year, The Guardian ran an article exalting the work of billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen about the rewilding of his 17,000-hectare (42,000-acre) estate in the Highlands. We should all be so lucky.

 

I think I might indulge in some rewilding if I had a spare £4 billion to rest on, but sadly, when I last checked my bank account it squeaked at me.

 

With this in mind, one could say the praise for the more ‘regular’ farmer has been somewhat, shall we say, absent.

 

Is it because we only make up 1.5 per cent of the population but own 71 per cent of the country’s land surface? Is it because we do not stand up for ourselves as a collective? Or is it because we are not and never have been ‘fashionable’?


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While the NHS does a remarkable job, Phil believes farmers need greater recognition.
While the NHS does a remarkable job, Phil believes farmers need greater recognition.

Troubling times

 

Whatever the reason, these deeply troubling times have exposed two sides of mankind.

 

On one side are the people who were stockpiling loo roll and clearing the shelves of every product imaginable, and on the other are the local producers of vegetables, fruit and meat, who have gone out of their way to ensure those who cannot get out do not go without.

 

I have read about farm shops doing home deliveries, local farmers dropping off cuts of meat around villages and the echo chamber of social media is awash with messages of positivity.

 

Yet due to our naturally introverted character flaw, we are not broadcasting or crowing about how ‘good’ we are.

 

Instead, we carry on drilling, spraying, feeding livestock and maintaining our 71 per cent of this green and pleasant land.

 

We do that so others have access to footpaths and get to experience the great outdoors, then complain about the smell while failing to social distance and understand where a footpath ends and a garden begins.

 

Our thanks for this service is the importing of Polish chicken into supermarkets. These are then to be cooked in the rapeseed oil which was produced from Polish oilseed rape which was not restricted by a neonicotinoids ban, no doubt.

 

When this comes to an end, I hope there is some support left for UK agriculture and it isn’t all spent in the praise of the NHS.

 

After all, not all heroes wear white coats and scrubs. Some wear John Deere overalls and worn-out wax jackets.

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