Carola Godman Irvine. Farmer, Campaigner & Columnist. 24-03-21

  • Written by Carola Godman Irvine
  • Posted on Mar 24, 2021
  • Articles

Over half the adult population vaccinated and still counting. If Brussels would stop playing infantile games, the UK should be on track to have the whole of the adult population safe by mid-summer.

If the government can find a way to persuade Covid deniers and the ant-vaccination league to get the lifesaving jab, without being labelled racist, we should all sleep more soundly at night.

Despite the grim headlines reporting that, ‘Fish and shellfish exports to the EU dropped by 83% in January’, and ‘Meat exports to the UK’s largest trading partner fell by nearly two-thirds (59%), and dairy exports having halved (50%)’, it is encouraging to hear more positive news.

Fishermen from Cornwall to Hastings. St Margaret’s Bay, Grimsby, Whitby and Kingston upon Hull, are now picking up home trade, as the domestic demand for British fish has surged.

Hopefully as restaurants and hotels re-open, and those desperate to venture out this summer to British coastal destinations, consumption of fresh fish and shell fish will increase.

If coastal towns create the right atmosphere, perhaps by encouraging visitors to believe they have actually ‘gone abroad’, diners will be tempted to be more adventurous when ordering meals. Rather than choosing their staple ‘fish and chips’, we should branch out into something more adventurous to support local fishermen.

Likewise the demand for British dairy produce, beef and lamb has also escalated dramatically, as the public shop local; including fresh meat and dairy produce from independent butchers, farm shops and local supermarkets. This boost is giving farmers a positive return, particularly for top quality meat products.

Unfortunately for pig farmers, demand for their products has fallen dramatically, as producers previously relied heavily on the export markets.

At a time when UK pig meat production had risen, the demand for pork fell away when the eating out market disappeared. Although it is expected that this market will recover as we come out of lockdown, it is not expected to compensate for the decline in retail and export volumes.

With the sharp decline in exports to China, a major destination, added to which the disruption to trade following the UK’s departure from the EU, which has created a wave of new health and customs paperwork.

Pig farmers are coping with a log jam as new piglets are born, and finished pigs for the pork market remain but have grown huge as they become bacon pigs. Hopefully supplies to the home market will be balanced by lower imports from the continent.

There is only so much bacon the British can eat despite being among our favorite meals. However, next time you shop, please remember to support British pig farmers by adding a couple of extra packs of bacon to your shopping trolley.

Prince Charles has for decades tried to persuade the public and food manufacturers in particular, to avoid eating and producing highly processed food.

I believe his message did become blurred with its ‘organic’ message, and his association with ‘talking to his plants’. This is sad because fundamentally he was absolutely right with his warnings and as he also targeted his concerns regarding environmental pollution and animal welfare matters.

Today the shift back to ‘traditional’ farming, seen now as sustainable, as opposed to the pressure from the EU from 1960-1980s, encouraging farmers to rip out hedges using every inch of land to increase productively and claim maximum payments. In 1992 set aside was introduced when the realization of their error, but by then the damage had been done.

The farmers who bucked the change in those days were labelled old fashioned dinosaurs. But as so often happens in life, what goes round comes round.

Prince Charles’s message has remained steadfastly the same: eat fresh, eat local and avoid mass produced processed food. Thereby keeping us and the countryside safe and healthy.

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