Shropshire Star

Shropshire Farming Talk: Jeremy Clarkson's show has done much for British agriculture

With Clarkson’s Farm the most watched show on Amazon Prime, Jeremy Clarkson has undoubtedly been successful with telling his story to the masses.

Shropshire Star farming column columnist James Neame, Rural Surveyor, Nock Deighton Agricultural LLP .

The story, however, is one faced by farmers on a daily basis.

Jeremy’s portrayal of farming is an honest reflection of the daily hurdles farmers face, from TB to bureaucracy and Brexit to local planning authorities, albeit with a comical twist aided by his team.

The charismatic approach and articulate manner in which the show is executed appears to have done more for British agriculture than any preceding show.

However, as remarked by Jeremy, the rising financial pressures faced by farmers from fertiliser and fuel prices to interest rates having increased is a stark reality faced by all of us.

As we enter the 2023 Basic Payment Scheme application window, we are all yet again reminded of the reduction in subsidy.

We are seeing increasingly more enquiries regarding Countryside Stewardship and have already had a few application meetings for the Sustainable Farming Incentive.

These will not be a replacement to the area-based payments that we have grown used to and will require a higher level of input to achieve the output.

The current budget for environmental schemes is only guaranteed until the next election so it will be interesting to see the uptake of these schemes over the coming years given the further reduction in BPS payments.

With potential financial pressures looming, now is the time to sit down, put the kettle on and take a good look at your farming business.

The efficiency of your assets will need to be reviewed to ensure that you are maximising the returns from your farming business. Whilst costs have dropped from the highs of last year, the impact of subsidy reduction will be increasingly prevalent. There are ways to mitigate these costs, whether that be from lower input methods of farming or, as Jeremy Clarkson is trying, diversification.

We have had the pleasure of knowing our subsidy payments will reduce over a number of years and should embrace this transition period.

With only a 50 per cent payment next year, now is the time to (if you haven’t already done so) review your business and highlight the areas where efficiency could be improved.

Sustainability, a buzz word usually attributed to the environment, will become increasingly important from an economic perspective. Good management will be critical over the coming years to navigate the changes ahead.

As Lady Grantham said in Downton Abbey, “I think the more adaptable we are, the more chance we have of getting through”.

From experience, farmers are both adaptable and resilient and will be ready to make the necessary changes. Just make sure you plan for those changes.

James Neame, Nock Deighton

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