Society needs farming and for more reasons than just food

Despite what you hear constantly about how busy, full and urban this country is, very little of it is urban, or indeed built on in any way shape or form. The most recent figure I saw was 7% and they had to add footpaths in to get it up to that level. Britain is mostly made of the land for which Britain’s farmers take responsibility.

Michael Wale’s excellent piece on flood management in this week’s Farm Business is a reminder that the importance of managing that land goes well beyond just the production of food. Britain, society, people, the planet – whatever you want to call it – need agriculture and they need farmers. Just don’t ask for thanks.

We shouldn’t get too smug. Most people’s jobs are pretty vital. You wouldn’t get on very well feeding the world without the people that work in the energy industry producing the fuel for the combine, the people who mine the iron ore to make the steel to build the combine, the people who build the roads that are used to take the grain, milk or meat away when you’ve produced it, the doctor who makes you better when you’re ill or indeed an awful lot of other people.

Agriculture is fortunate in having some very thoughtful and clever people working in it. This week’s magazine’s full of it. Read Jamie Day’s report on the Farm Business Dairy Forum held recently at the House of Commons, or Jim Gerrard’s report on the Generation Farm Conference, which produced everything from the hugely innovative approaches to farming systems developed by people such as David Miller or Martin Barker, to a reminder from Red Tractor’s Philippa Wiltshire of the fantastic efforts of this industry to build public trust. A few home truths from Séan Rickard, delivered in his inimitable style, were well worth hearing too.

We’ve got lots from opinionated people in this issue on subjects ranging from varieties to cultivation to livestock management. We’ve also got a report on a very different farming environment, from Gaina Morgan. She’s been to Turkey, a country which may well have some lessons for us, even if it doesn’t exactly share our weather. Today’s forecast says the temperature’s going to go up by seven degrees between when I’m writing this and the first chance you’ll get to read it. I hope they’re right.

Chris Lyddon
Editor, Farm Business

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