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In your field: Tom Clarke - 'I am growing traditionally imported wheats'

During my early-teen growth spurt I had skinny, matchstick legs and gigantic size-12 feet which I could barely control. This made me hopeless at football – this was in the1980s and Peter Crouch had not surfaced yet.

Therefore, I was always near to the last to be picked for a team and nearly always put in goal, where my peers thought I would do least damage.

 

There was one football pitch at school on what can only be described as a hill. That was when the glory-seeking strikers realised they should have paid more attention to who they’d put in goal.

 

At least we got to swap ends – when you played on that field it really was a game of two halves.

 

Speaking of being poorly set up to compete on a tilted playing field, in later life I became a farmer. This time I don’t think it’s worth waiting for a change of ends, I’m just going to have to play better.

 

One of the tricks I have tried this year is growing types of wheat that Britain has traditionally had to import.

 

However big the home-grown harvest is, we import about 10 per cent of our top grade milling wheat from Canada and Germany.

 

This super-high protein wheat hasn’t traditionally been grown here – but this is the third year I have tried to grow it on the Fens, anticipating some supply issues due to Brexit. These have yet to materialise, but I am hopefully playing a longer game.


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Sugar tariff changes could undermine beet industrySugar tariff changes could undermine beet industry
In Your Field: Tom Clarke - 'Many a grand farmhouse has a dusty portrait of a peasant in the attic'In Your Field: Tom Clarke - 'Many a grand farmhouse has a dusty portrait of a peasant in the attic'

While we can certainly grow more of our own produce across the UK, being only 50 per cent self-sufficient, expanding into new markets has its limits. Some things only grow elsewhere, or grow there better.

 

For those items we must trade. And the rules of trade are set by Government. Surely as team captain they should defend our goal and ensure our back four are well-coached, wear decent boots, know the gameplan and are trained and match fit?

 

Recently you’d be forgiven for thinking the Government was stocked entirely with glory-seeking strikers who paid little attention to their own half.

 

In last week’s FG Brexit hub, Joe Stanley outlined the uphill struggle UK beet farmers currently face. Meanwhile, over on Twitter I was patted on the head and told that international trade in both sugar and bananas was too complicated and controversial for my simple brain.

 

 

When I pointed out there was no home-grown banana industry to defend, someone reliably informed me there is a banana tree in Cambridge which, due to climate change, now produces fruit every year.

 

 

But perhaps that is one diversification too far – for now at least.

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