From the editor: Butterflies and flowers will not feed a growing population


Who is up for butterfly and wildflower salad? Any takers?

I ask this because if Dame Helen Ghosh’s vision for the countryside becomes a reality, this is all that might be left, what with her belief any future support payments should be for the environment and not food production.

In saying future subsidy should be geared towards providing goods valued by the public she will incense many farmers who rightly believe the core of their profession, that of food production, is the very essence of providing something of value for the public good.

While Dame Helen’s belief that retailers should properly underpin the market is one many farmers will agree with, they will also tell her it is something which is simply not happening and, unless she has a magic wand, there is not much chance of it changing in the short-term.

What her bombastic comments also point towards is a debate about the future of farm policy which could become increasingly fractious and why a consensus is needed among the farming organisations about the way forward for the sector.

Our look ahead to the Glorious Twelfth exposes how the challenge of managing the uplands has been set back years by the fact the different groups, be they farmers, estate managers or environmentalists, often enraged each other with rhetoric which caused acrimony, not collaboration.

The worry is the Brexit debate could easily go the same way.

If the different sides use the politics of provocation to get a rise from the other, it could easily descend in to Brexit bun fight, with each side screaming for what they want and getting nowhere.

What the agricultural lobby must not do, however, is be steamrollered by organisations which wish to depict farmers as wildlife killers with little care for the environment.


Farmers have shaped the countryside we all love and must be allowed to get on with the job of feeding an ever-growing population.

And finally...

The prospect of dairy protests this week once again exposes the rifts within the sector. As the market turns, it is vital processors start to pass on the returns to farmers and not keep treating them as an afterthought.

Ben Briggs
Posted by Ben Briggs
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