Farming leaders can learn from history

The changing face of farming and the countryside was highlighted in the BBC4 programme, "Blood Sweat & Tractors," showing how the Second World War forced farmers to concentrate on food production, update their methods and do what they were told.

Rosemary Allen is a retired livestock farmer living near Ellesmere
Rosemary Allen is a retired livestock farmer living near Ellesmere

It showed changes in livestock breeding, for the strangest reasons. How Aberdeen Angus bulls went from big to small because overseas trade needed smaller, more easily transported, carcasses, then to big again because more meat is needed by supermarkets for more of the profitable cuts. Nothing to do with farming or eating!

Mike Keeble and Professor Webster, stalwarts of agriculture for many years, are seen talking up the changes, all the time keeping on the winning side and never questioning the real reasons why farming is how it is today – government policies, policies made for the moment by people who don't understand or care about the bigger picture.

I bet the dairying one will show cows have gone from skeletal giants to smaller rounder healthier ones, which is where they started.

Today's farming leaders could learn from history, and not agree with everything just because it is politic to do so. When we see the programme about pigs, they might fly!

Rosemary Allen is a retired livestock farmer living near Ellesmere

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