Diddley squat in farming

Clarkson’s Farm got the whole country talking but it’s importance for the agri industry goes beyond the entrainment factor, writes UFU communications officer Tracey Donaghey.

Saturday, 7th August 2021, 2:00 pm

It was recently announced by Jeremy Clarkson that his Amazon Prime Video show Clarkson’s Farm is being renewed for a second season.

While we are all excited about seeing the whole team back on our screens again and enjoying some quality farming banter, its significance to the farming community is much greater.

There are many challenges and issues within agriculture that farmers know all too well, however, the rest of the world are either oblivious to it or fail to grasp it fully. The biggest difficulty from a communications point of view, is reaching those who are not from farming backgrounds.

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That was until Clarkson’s Farm came along and broke all records on Amazon Prime Video.

Wealthy farmers

There is a misconception from the non-farming community that the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) is an unnecessary handout because farmers are wealthy. Many have often questioned how else would they be able to drive around in big tractors and afford other expensive equipment.

To farm, and to do so sustainably, farm machinery are must haves - as referenced in episode one. Fast forward to the final episode when Clarkson discovers his profit only amounts to £144 in the first year of business, and the BPS takes on a whole new meaning.

The majority of farm incomes are made up of this essential support because the money made from food production alone would not be enough to sustain a farm business let alone a home and a family. The big issue for farmers in England, is that it’s being phased out over the next seven years. Changes are also likely to come down to track for Northern Ireland farmers over the coming years too.

Weather

It’s safe to say farmers have a bit of a reputation for complaining about the weather, for good reason, but up until now it has never been articulated so sincerely.

Anyone who incorrectly thinks that farmers do not care about climate change will soon see how more extreme weather is the last thing that any farmer wants to deal with.

Clarkson’s reaction to the weather not only highlighted how vulnerable farmers are to it financially, but mentally too because there’s not one thing they can do about it.

Environment

The UFU have been working hard to showcase how farmers are part of the climate change solution. In Clarkson’s Farm there may have only been time to cover the importance of conservation, a small snippet of what farmers are doing across the UK daily, but when you take into account that the show gained the highest viewer rating of any Amazon Video production to date, every little certainly helps.

Standards

The UK farming unions have been lobbying to ensure our world leading environmental and animal welfare standards are protected as free trade discussions continue. Clarkson’s insight into the importance of ‘Red Tractor business’ delivered in real man’s term, was a major highlight of the series.

The blunt explanation of inspections made it very clear that the work of Red Tractor ensures UK farm produce is produced safely and to the highest standards with big benefits and reassurance for the consumer.

Farming bug

Despite the long hours, sheep doing the opposite of what you want them to and all the other things that went horribly wrong, the tone of Clarkson’s farm was on point the whole way through and the conclusion did not fall short.

It’s the camaraderie and the craic, being involved in something bigger than yourself and that feeling you get when something does eventually go right, that keeps farm families getting up and at every single day. Clarkson has caught the farming bug.