Things I've learnt from Farming Today

Published December 6, 2009

Mr C is often surprised, no, actually, the word is aghast, at the number of podcast episodes I have to listen to and how far back some of them are dated.

I recently tried to play him a TWiT episode from March. Actually, even I think that is a bit extreme, but in some cases, it doesn’t really matter how old the information is. I listen to Farming Today, and over the last week or so, I’ve been catching up on some old shows. These are some of the things I learnt, and had a subsequent conversation with Mr C about. I would not have been able to do this had I just deleted the shows as he suggested.

  • 65% of sugar consumed in this country is grown in this country. I don’t know if that statistic is entirely true, but it’s news to me because I didn’t know we grew any sugar in this country!
  • Organic food has lost it’s trendy status and is on the decline again - many veg box businesses are closing. (There is still one in the Archers though.)
  • You have to feed bees over the winter because you have stolen their food - honey. It’s apparently a mix of sugar and water. The feed, not the honey.
  • There is a town somewhere where they are using every single available space - outside the library, grass verges - to grow all kinds of vegetables. They have even planted apple trees outside the police station. They harvest the fruit and veg and give it away for free. People aren’t inclined to vandalise it because it is free.
  • Schools are starting to encourage farm visits as they can help with all kinds of areas of the school curriculum - numeracy, history, science and art. There are worries after the big e-coli outbreak, but apparently the kids love to visit the farms.
  • Somewhere around Britain they are trying to reintroduce birds of prey, and particularly sea eagles. The farmers are worried though, because they might attack and kill the lambs. Birds eat lambs?
  • Either a sheep or a pig was sold for about £235,000. The farmer who sold it wasn’t sure it was worth the money yet, but said they will find out when it is used for breeding in the future. I can’t remember whether it was a sheep or a pig. If it was a sheep-pig, then I could understand the price tag.
  • Some Pick Your Owns are starting to grow things off the ground, about waist height, to make it easier for picking. Old people particularly appreciate not having to bend down to harvest strawberries.
  • Farmers will get more money this year for their single farm payment, as the cheque comes from the EU and is therefore in Euros. Due to the weakening pound, they are likely to get 13% more than last year.
  • Dairy farmers are, on average, selling their milk for 17p per litre, when it costs 20p to make. Uh, maths fail. They are selling at a loss. Marks & Spencers, though, pay something like 25p per litre. This isn’t just any decent milk contract, this is a Marks & Spencer decent milk contract. That must be why it is more expensive in M&S. Interesting.

There is something to be said for catching up on podcasts, at least.

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