WORD ON THE GROUND: Do we want to grow food in the UK or import it?
Much land work is now being done locally after the deluge in the early part of the year.
Many soils have suffered dramatically from water logging and compaction and may need a year or more to recover their fertility and friability.
Sugar beet has been drilled for those brave enough to grow the crop and potatoes are now being planted.
Peas have been drilled and maize will follow shortly. All this shows farmers are indeed attempting to feed our increasing population but with mixed messages coming from Government, there still is no clear policy on how this country wishes its farmers to do their job.
The much-vaunted Environmental Land Management scheme (ELMS) is still being drawn up but there is no clear policy apparent as yet.
The fundamental question that many farmers are asking is do we want British agriculture to feed our nation or do we want our farmers to provide a nature park for rural folk?
Like most in this area, I was born a farmer and will die one, and it has always been clearly understood that our job was to grow food, whether via beast, corn or vegetables.
It seems that this basic tenet is now being challenged by many who see agriculture’s prime purpose as being custodians of our countryside.
Taking care of the countryside – our own environment – is of the utmost importance to farmers, since without careful stewardship of the soil, we cease to have a viable ‘factory’ on which to grow crops. The two go hand in hand. So the big question is: do we want to grow food here in the UK or import it?