Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 19°C

min temp: 16°C

ESTD 1874 Search

NFU opinion: Waking up to food and energy challenge

06:00 26 March 2014

Arable farmer Richard Styles of Debenham

Arable farmer Richard Styles of Debenham

COPYRIGHT, 2005

Sometimes I feel like Badger, writes Richard Styles.

DVD cover for Wind in the Willows 80s adaptation starring David Jason, Michael Hordern, Peter Sallis, and Ian Carmichael.DVD cover for Wind in the Willows 80s adaptation starring David Jason, Michael Hordern, Peter Sallis, and Ian Carmichael.

I’m not talking about the nocturnal ones that have been on the news recently.

I mean dear old Badger from the Wind in the Willows.

Like him you would have recently found me quite often after lunch sitting in an armchair with my feet up on another chair, with a handkerchief over my face, happily dozing for half an hour, or so.

Unless I am woken up by the cat suddenly leaping onto my lap or the dog deciding to bark for no apparent reason.

Being a modern arable farmer, who is slowly but gradually reaching the average age of farmers in Britain (57 is the regularly-quoted figure) I now find myself napping at odd times during the day.

Because of the almost continuous rain over the past few months giving me little to do outside on the farm, I found myself nodding off during the early afternoon rain storms without worrying about the farm workload.

However, the sun is now finally shining and it seems to be pulling everything up towards it as if by strings.

Spring has arrived and I find I am woken early by the wonderful dawn chorus, I have vitality in my step and a feeling of wanting to be getting on with things.

How wonderful it is then to be a small part of an industry that matches my age and mood and physical condition.

It will not be long before I start putting in some long hours of work per day nurturing my crops to fruition, unfortunately no doubt breaking one of the many European rules in the process.

It’s quite sad to realise that you probably need a special permit these days to sleep during daylight hours. On average I fill in a government-related form every two weeks of my life, at the last count 27 a year, the majority of which are of very little assistance in planting, nurturing and harvesting the crops that will eventually become the food we eat.

We seem to have sleepwalked into a system of regulation where it is made difficult to start or run your own business without spending much time filling in forms, but yet we do not seem to have managed to create a coherent long term energy or food policy.

We are therefore continuing to be reliant on imported raw materials. Why this is so is beyond my simple mind.

One can only presume that our political masters over the past 20 years were asleep on the job.

World events over the recent past should serve as a warning that we urgently need new sources of energy to power our economy and new innovative technologies to feed our society.

I shall endeavour to ignore the advice from the many quangos surrounding farming and try and produce the best quality food I can for the nation’s plates this year.

But only if I’m awake and during daylight hours, and with the correct government form signed in triplicate!

n NFU member Richard Styles is an arable farmer at Debenham, Suffolk

0 comments

Group of 28 people (made up of police, search & rescue, and RAF personnel) trying to find Corrie McKeague who has been missing since Saturday morning. Picture near Ampton village.

The search for RAF serviceman Corrie McKeague enters its fourth day this morning after the 23-year-old was reported missing on Monday.

Ipswich Crown Court

An Essex man accused of kidnapping and sexually assaulting a Colchester woman has claimed she tried to steal cocaine from him.

The report was launched at the University of Suffolk.

The new report into deprivation in Suffolk has been launched in front of civic leaders from across the county.

Roadworks on the A12 at Woodbridge are causing traffic delays at peak times.

A lane closure which caused miles of tailbacks on a busy Suffolk road is set to reopen today after nearly a week of delays for motorists.

A delivery room at Harwich's Fryatt Hospital when it was opened in 2005. Photograph: James Fletcher

Harwich hospital will not deliver babies from April next year after chiefs approved plans to shut down the birthing unit in a bid to cut costs.

Most read

Great Days Out

cover

Click here to view
the Great Days Out
supplement

View

Most commented

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Streetlife

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

MyDate24 MyPhotos24