Clarkson’s Farm powers fresh interest in how British farmers produce food

© Amazon Prime Video

Author: Andrew Blenkiron, Red Tractor vice-chair

In my 36 years of farming, I’ve concluded that while many things have changed – governments, farm ministers and tractor horsepower quickly spring to mind – there’s one part to being a farmer which is a constant.

To do this job, you need to be so many things. An economist, a vet, a salesman, a weather forecaster, an agronomist, an entrepreneur, an office manager, a social worker, a handyman and, preferably, a fortune teller.

Jeremy Clarkson of fast cars fame has discovered the joys and dramas of farming life after deciding to take over the running of the Cotswolds farm, that he’s owned since 2008.

His happy-go-lucky venture into farming is documented in Clarkson’s Farm, his latest TV show on Amazon Prime Video.

He might not be the most obvious farming advocate but, with Brexit only just behind us, free trade deals on the horizon and a climate emergency looming large, his programme has landed at a poignant time for agriculture and has sparked fresh interest in where food comes from.

Great expectations

Since I began farming more than three decades ago, I’ve seen public awareness of the work that goes into producing their food ebb and flow. This has undoubtedly been influenced by numerous food scares of the past – salmonella, BSE, horsemeat… need I go on?

Andrew Blenkiron, farmer and Red Tractor vice-chair
Andrew Blenkiron, farmer and Red Tractor vice-chair

Today the British public understandably expects a lot of farmers. Rearing livestock to world-class welfare standards, making sure their food is safe to eat and is fully traceable, and caring for the environment.

At the same time, we live in an age when you can click a button and goods are whisked to your door almost instantly.

As a result, society has become even more removed from the realities of food production, only serving to increase the level of misunderstanding.

“Thanks to decades of hard work and dedication, British produce is now synonymous with quality. That’s largely down to genuine accountability and rigorous safeguards across the food and drink supply chain”

I’m talking about the kind of farm inspection which makes even one of the biggest names in TV quake in their wellies.

Check out episode 6 of Clarkson’s farm, where he goes through a routine Red Tractor farm inspection to see what I mean. Watch the video clip below.

No farmer looks forward to the day when the inspector calls, but these thorough checks are in place to make sure the British food that we eat is traceable, safe and farmed with care.

Ultimately the high degree of trust that is borne out of this painstaking process is a massive win for farmers and shoppers alike.

If you’ve enjoyed watching Clarkson’s Farm and want to see first-hand how farmers produce your food, I recommend that you take part in Open Farm Sunday on 27 June.

Thousands of Red Tractor assured farms are signed up to welcome you onto their farms for free – all you need to do is go to the website and find a farm local to you.

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