Considering its poor record and lack of understanding about British agriculture and farming practises, it is of little surprise that the BBC allowed this programme’s release without checking it for unhelpful prejudice.
The programme was presented by Miss Liz Bonnin, who had travelled to Brazil where she highlighted the destruction of the rainforests making way for cattle ranches. And the USA where we saw mega cattle and pig farms covering hundreds of square miles with factory like buildings and slurry lagoons, farming practises which clearly contribute to global warming and the pollution of rivers and lakes.
Throughout the broadcast Miss Bonnin made references to UK farming which by implication suggested that British farming methods are equally destructive of the countryside, an accusation which could not be further from the truth.
Not once did she explain how very different UK livestock farming is in comparison. Here cattle, beef cattle in particular, are mainly grass fed and our production standards and animal welfare are amongst the highest in the world.
We have become used to BBC countryside and farming programmes which are on the whole anti- farming, anti-traditional food production and anti-land ownership. When such propaganda is released upon the public at a time when UK agriculture has never been under so much scrutiny, it is hardly surprising that farmers are angry.
As we approach the General Election and political parties have released their manifestoes, it is clear that the environment and climate change are amongst their priorities. It seems that they too are putting British farmers in the same box as Brazil, the USA, and Malaysia where deforestation is ongoing.
I think we should be asking the question, “who is speaking up for British farmers”?
We have already done a huge amount of work over the past thirty years by supporting the environment, encouraging wildlife and preventing the pollution of our waterways.
We have lowered our carbon footprint by reducing soil cultivations and adopting min-till, and cutting our use of chemicals and fertilisers. We have created six meter buffer strips between crops and hedges and water courses, and planted trees and introduced beetle banks.
Indeed we should do more in certain sectors but it is important to acknowledge the importance of British agriculture and the part farmers play in offsetting the pollution and carbon footprint created by cities and manufacturing industries. Woodland, pastures and open moorlands are the lungs of the nation where the very oxygen we breathe is produced.
The working countryside is part of the infrastructure for sustainable food production, an essential process and production line which ensures we purchase mainly British and local produce, thus reducing significantly food miles.
Farmers and landowners are supposedly represented by organisations such as the National Farmers Union. Where have they been in this debate and why have we not heard the President countering the negative messages coming from political leaders, whilst at the same time battering down the doors of the BBC last week?
One would think that the NFU believes we have already lost the argument, or are they scared to confront those lobbying against us?
Farmers are very angry and frustrated by a lack of leadership for our industry. Do they want us to shut up shop and become park keepers? Should we open our farm gates and allow open access to the public resulting in the total destruction of wildlife habitats and valuable food producing land?
If politicians are failing to recognise the importance of British agriculture, I am unconvinced that we have the right people representing our industry.