The scarecrows represented the 49% of fruit and vegetable growers who told a survey they may quit the industry if they don’t get a fairer deal from the big supermarket retailers.
Mr Singh-Watson is the founder of Riverford Organic Farmers, the veg box company which delivers 65,000 boxes a week and has twice been named BBC Radio 4 Organic Farmer of the Year. In 2018 he sold nearly three quarters of the company to employees and will shortly sell his remaining shares making Riverford 100% owned by its staff.
There is a drive for farmers to embrace digital passports for livestock and grain. All cattle will soon be sporting electronic ear tags unless the decision is reversed and there is a push by grain traders to introduce digital passports to replace paper ones. However, a group of 17 grain merchants have teamed up to voice their concerns. They feel they are not being listened to and it is already a ‘done deal’ despite the ongoing consultation. Amongst their concerns are that it would lead to further consolidation in the grain sector. Be undermined by poor connectivity in rural areas. Cost farmers and merchants more money and be at risk of hacking.
Rural areas are renowned for poor phone signals – the reception in Wivelsfield is shocking, and the regular power cuts make our mobile ‘smart’ phones useless. The push for businesses, farming included, to embrace all things digital, electrical, and battery operated will without doubt leave us all at a standstill in due course, and without a plan B. Let us hope this latest bad idea is nipped in the bud.
The suggestion that conscription into national Service should be re-introduced seems to have been quickly silenced. The argument by senior military personnel has been that it would be unworkable, too expensive and being lumbered with unwilling recruits unhelpful.
Perhaps the UK should look to Singapore where National Service is mandatory for every male citizen on reaching the age of 18. They can serve in the Armed Forces, Civil Defence Force/border control, or the Police for two years, after which many sign up full time, or must remain Operationally Ready National Serviceman until the age of 40. They become involved in countering terrorism, dealing with the aftermath of natural disasters, and tackling health epidemics alongside the regulars.
Singapore national servicemen form the backbone of the three uniformed Services that keep Singapore safe and secure. For many, this defining experience bonds them with people from different backgrounds and across generations.