Farming News – December 2020

by Malcolm Barker

When I left school, farming was simple. Produce food for people to eat, as much as possible to feed the nation. The more we farmers produced the better off we were financially. By the time of the Ethiopian famine, I thought that we could help feed the world.

Those days are past. If we still wish to produce food, it must be no dearer than world prices, whilst the fuel and inputs must be bought at highly taxed British prices. In recent years we relied on European subsidies to make up the difference, but these end next year and government money will go to nature conservation. Do I mind? I’m not sure. Last Summer I planted 8 acres of herbal leys (a mixture of clovers, herbs and grasses to attract insects & pollinators) to see if I can feed my cattle and sheep, using lower input costs whilst helping nature. This is a trial, but producing unwanted food is certainly uneconomic.