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UK food and farming under threat

15 May 2024
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Farming by Keith Evans, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

By Ian Mean, Business West Gloucestershire director

Here in Gloucestershire, many farmers are really on the brink after the wettest year for 150 years which has devastated their business.

It is timely, therefore, that the Prime Minister’s second Farm to Food summit is being held at Downing Street this week.

The food and farming problem really is serious, and I don’t think we realise just how serious.

Fields in our county have been totally waterlogged to the point where you couldn’t get a tractor on the land-it would just sink in.

As a result, winter wheat was not planted, and an enormous amount of straw has not been produced which provides the feed for dairy farmers’ cattle during the winter.

The  over-riding  problem is that farmers have now got  to take about 20 per cent of their land out of production to meet all the government’s Green economies.

And Sir Henry Elwes, our former Lord Lieutenant, who farms 1 500 acres on his Colesbourne estate near Cirencester, tells me: “This means if you have a 200 acre family farm, you are going to lose a quarter of your production. Your tractor still costs £300 000, and your combine harvester still costs half a million.

“Agricultural policy seems to be on the move all  the time and it is very difficult for farmers to guage what they can do.

“I  don’t think the farmers are going to get money from the government but they need some sort of supervision on the costs of products like fertiliser which has gone through the roof.”

Gloucestershire is primarily a rural county with a high proportion of our land devoted to agriculture in its various forms-not just traditional farms.

And something like 9 000 people are employed in Gloucestershire in the agriculture, forestry and fishing sectors-that’s equal to 2.9 per cent of the total employment in the county which is higher than England and Wales at 1.4 per cent.

That’s why the investment in and the development of Agri-tech is such an important element of  Gloucestershire’s new Economic Strategy being published this week.

We must not underestimate the value of our farmers.


Nicky Godding is editor of The Business Magazine. Before her journalism career, she worked mainly in public relations moving into writing when she was invited to launch Retail Watch, a publication covering retail and real estate across Europe.

After some years of constant travelling, she tucked away her passport and concentrated on business writing, co-founding a successful regional business magazine. She has interviewed some of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs who have built multi-million-pound businesses and reported on many science and technology firsts.

She reports on the region’s thriving business economy from start-ups, family businesses and multi-million-pound corporations, to the professionals that support their growth and the institutions that educate the next generation of business leaders.

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