Friday, December 6, 2019

Fighting back for farmers

November 6, 2019 by  
Filed under Clodhopper

People with a militant anti-meat agenda deserve to be roasted – at least metaphorically, says Clodhopper.

I was always taught to clear my plate – otherwise there would be no pudding. It is a lesson today’s generation should learn too. After all, there is little better than a good Sunday roast with all the trimmings – followed by an autumn apple crumble and custard.

Youngsters these days seem to disagree. And we farmers are under fire once again – this time by a group called Animal Rebellion, which is pushing for a ban on eating meat, fish and dairy products. If they get their way, soon we will be eating only fruit and vegetables.

Some 7kg of carbon dioxide are emitted in the production of a day’s food for all of us who are meat eaters. But it takes just 4kg of carbon to feed a vegetarian or 3kg for a vegan diet. So their logic says the only way to prevent environmental disaster is to stop eating meat.

Animal Rebellion wants an abrupt end to livestock farming and the fishing industry. In an effort to get their misinformed message across, last month the organisation and its supporters targeted Defra and Smithfield Market in London.

For people like me who enjoy a good Sunday roast, it is worrying. These people seem well organised and have the support of some large charities. They also appear to have political backing – in some quarters at least.

Financial pressure

Livestock farmers are already under serious financial pressure due to the economics of the industry. The number of dairy farms in this area is down to single figures – and I struggle to name any within a 30 minute drive.

Beef farmers tell me the only reason they keep cattle is because Grandfather or Father love to see them on the farm – despite the accounts showing a negative balance. Often the younger generation wants to make use of the old buildings or diversify but old heads make stubborn resistance.

The arable boys are under attack too. Non-farming folk seem to be against anything these days – and yet many of our biggest critics are ill-informed. And when it comes to fruit and veg, they don’t want chlorine sprays, waxes or chemical washes.

Fruit and veg are seldom labelled with these treatments. But it isn’t a case of what you don’t know won’t hurt you. Rather it is because they are considered to be processing aids rather than ingredients – aiding the consumer by preserving the quality of the product.

Waxing preserves fruit by preventing moisture loss – increasing its shelf life. Cut open an apple and see how long it takes to go brown and bruised. Minutes not days.

The debate continues to rage over potatoes fogged in store. Is it really necessary? Well it certainly stops sprouting – helping to ensure potatoes are available throughout the year. Enhancers, which basically put fruit to sleep, enable it to be stored for longer in refrigerated warehouses.

Customer is right

Why is this done? Because consumers want all types of food all year round – whether in season or not. And despite our best efforts, it is impossible to produce food out of season at a price consumers are willing to pay.

I don’t condone the treatments used – in fact, I would prefer we didn’t use them. But we live in a world of convenience. And I am pleased there are more people out there determined to enjoy a weekly Sunday roast and apple crumble – despite the naysayers.

So I will continue to treat my crops with chemicals that help me farm in profit – and produce food that people want to buy. And I would rather do so than live in a world where the only thing on the menu is a handful of nuts or a pretend sausage that doesn’t contain meat.

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