Here is an extract from a book I have just bought from Amazon.

“Since the 1870’s British farmers have had neither stability nor security. Politicians’ promises have been made and forgotten, war-time prosperity has been followed by slump or uncertainty”.

“The fundamental reason is not hard to find, the public, quite naturally, prefer to buy their food in the cheapest market and – except when overseas suppliers are cut off in an emergency – would sooner have Danish bacon and New Zealand butter than pay a higher price for these goods from British farms. If they could buy cheap milk form Holland, no doubt they would”.

“Thus it may be that real security and real stability for British farming will only come when we can sell our goods prices nearer those charged by overseas competitors”.

So, the book? Well, would you believe the above passage is the work of the then editor of Dairy Farmer writing the foreword to Forage Farming, by JR Stubbs in 1954, almost sixty years ago?

The break up of the MMB, the rise of the supermarkets, working mothers, microwave ovens, fast food outlets, changing values – the list of things we point to when explaining the demise of British farming grows daily. Yet, it seems it was always thus. A sobering reminder of the enormity of the challenge we face in instilling real value in the food from our farms. But, one thing’s for certain, sitting back and doing nothing about it will mean the same things are written in another sixty years’ time.


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