nfu farm, food & countryside

farm,food& countryside FREE Please take me good reasons to eat British food 10 Bio-diverse Britain The farmer’s year – including poster pullout!

Upload: happy-giraffe

Post on 28-Mar-2016




0 download


Farm, Food & Countryside magazine


Page 1: NFU Farm, Food & Countryside

farm,food&countrysideFREEPlease take me

good reasons toeat British food10

Bio-diverse Britain

The farmer’s year– including poster pullout!

Page 2: NFU Farm, Food & Countryside

Contents10 good reasonsto eat British food 2

Great reasonsto visit the countryside 4

The creation of ourcountryside 6

Bio-diverse Britain 8

Why Farming Matters tothe environment 10

The farmer’s year– including poster pullout! 11

Why Farming Matters tothe economy 15

Buy local, buy seasonal,buy British 16

Great British recipes 17

Where does yourSunday lunch come from? 18

Farming timeline 20

Flower power! 22

The appliance of science 24

About this booklet 25

The NFU champions British farming and providesprofessional representation and services to its farmerand grower members.

More information at:

Page 3: NFU Farm, Food & Countryside


ForewordEveryone loves the great British countryside – and for lots of different reasons. Somepeople like to spend their weekends in the fresh air and others want to enjoy wonderfulBritish food.

Farming is at the core of both these essential ingredients of life. Farmers care for theBritish countryside and grow or rear the produce that ends up on our dinner tables.Farming will also become more important with the increasing demands of climatechange and population growth.

We also know that people have a genuine interest in what we do as farmers – and somestrong opinions about it. That’s why we have reprinted this booklet – to give an insightinto farming and answer some of the questions you might have about what we do.

Peter KendallNFU President

Page 4: NFU Farm, Food & Countryside


You will be supportingsmall family businesses80% of farms are run by familybusinesses with modest turnovers. InBritain we have lost nearly half of thesefamily farms in the past 40 years. Bysupporting British farmers with yourcustom you will be doing your bit toreverse this regrettable decline.

You will be supportingyour local rural economyAgricultural businesses are key parts ofthe local rural economy. It’s not just thefarmers and farm workers who benefitfrom your custom, but all those whobenefit from a healthy agriculturalsector. From those who work in foodprocessing, to the teacher who teachesfarm children at the local village school,everyone receives benefits from keepingfarmers in business.

good reasons toeat British food10

You will cut down onyour food milesThe transportation of food clutters ourroads and airways. This uses up fuel andleads to increased pollution. By sourcingyour food locally you can help minimisethe problems food miles generate.


4 5

You will be buying asafe, traceable productFood from British farms is producedto very high standards of safety andwholesomeness. The process isregulated and checked from fieldto plate to ensure you have a mealyou can enjoy and trust.


3 You will be supporting somegreat British traditionsFrom English strawberries to Scotchwhisky, from Welsh lamb to Cornishclotted cream. British food made fromingredients from British farms representsthe best of British culture. Where wouldwe be as a nation without our Cheddarcheese and our real ale?

Page 5: NFU Farm, Food & Countryside


And the tenth good reasonto buy British farm produce?...oh yes, it tastes good. Very, very good.




The farmer givesyou good valueOut of an average basket of foodcosting £37 the farmer receives just £13.


Shop local, shop BritishTry shopping at a farm shop or afarmers’ market. This is the best way toget close to the point of production. It’sthe best way to ensure the produce isfresh. You might even get to meet thefarmer who grew the produce.


You will be encouraging highanimal welfare standardsBritish farmers have some of the highestanimal welfare standards in the world.There are more commercial free rangehens in the UK than anywhere else inEurope. UK pig farmers do not usetethers and stalls, in contrast to theirforeign competitors. Beef farmers donot use veal crates, beef lot systems,or hormones found abroad.

Eat the viewBy buying British farm produce you areeating the view. British farmers maintainthe beautiful British landscape. Bykeeping them in business you arehelping maintain that countryside.

Page 6: NFU Farm, Food & Countryside


Great reasons to visEnjoy the viewFrom the South Downs to the NorthYork Moors, from the flat fens to theundulating dales, the British countrysideoffers a range of views that no artgallery could match. Get your bootson and get viewing.

Immerse yourself in natureBritain boasts an inspiring bio-diversity.Whether it’s the scent of wild flowers,the spectacle of birds on the wing, thebuzz of a busy bee or the warm breezeon your face, the British countryside hasit all to offer.

Fresh air and healthThe first thing to do in the countryside isto fill your lungs with fresh air. The air inthe countryside is significantly cleanerthan the air in the city. It has beensuggested that people who live in thecountryside have a longer life expectancythan those who live in the towns.

Access and spaceBritain has one of the most comprehensivefootpath networks in the world. Withover 188,700km public rights of way inEngland you will never be short of a newwalk. And if you are in need of someexercise, why have an expensive workoutwhen you can have a free walk out?

It’s the most popularphysical activity you can dowith your clothes on. Say‘hello’ to the great outdoors.

Stay on a farm or pay a visitThere are over 1200 Farm Stay registeredproperties to stay at where you can enjoyfarm life first hand. Whether it’s bed andbreakfast, full board or self catering, therewill be something to fulfill your needs With over 500open farms and farm attractions, Britaincan offer all manner of agricultural daysout. Pet a lamb, ride a pony, watch a cowbeing milked – all right on your doorstep.

Page 7: NFU Farm, Food & Countryside


it the countryside…and while you’re in the countrysidedon’t forget the Countryside Code

“The thing I enjoy about the countrysidethe most is the peace, quietness, space,fresh air... scenery. It’s really beautiful.”

Be safe – plan ahead andfollow any signsEven when going out locally, it’s bestto get the latest information aboutwhere and when you can go (forexample, your rights to go onto someareas of open land may be restrictedwhile work is carried out, for safetyreasons or during breeding seasons).Follow advice and local signs, and beprepared for the unexpected.

Leave gates and propertyas you find themPlease respect the working life ofthe countryside, as our actions canaffect people’s livelihoods, our heritage,and the safety and welfare of animalsand ourselves.

Protect plants and animals,and take your litter homeWe have a responsibility to protect ourcountryside now and for futuregenerations, so make sure you don’tharm animals, birds, plants or trees.

Keep dogs underclose controlThe countryside is a great place toexercise dogs, but it is every owner’s dutyto make sure their dog is not a danger ornuisance to farm animals, wildlife orother people.

Consider other peopleShowing consideration and respect forother people makes the countryside apleasant environment for everyone – athome, at work and at leisure.

Page 8: NFU Farm, Food & Countryside


The meadowand the marginGrazing livestock are hugely important tothe ecology and environment of the hills,upland and other grassland areas.Grazing cattle and sheep allow differentflora and fauna to flourish and marginsat the edges of fields allow other wildlifespecies to thrive. In 2009 there weresix million hectares of farmland inagri-environment schemes where thefarmer manages the land to encouragethis biodiversity.

The farm trackTwo hundred years ago the countrysidewas criss-crossed by a cob-web of carttracks and droves used for herding farm-stock from field to field. Many of thoseold routes remain and are still used andmaintained by farmers as they go abouttheir work. Often public footpaths runalong these tracks and today there arearound 188,700km of public rights ofway in England.

The hedgeBritain has one of the most denselyhedged farmscapes in the world (inupland areas the hedge’s place is takenby the stone wall). Since 1987, agri-environment schemes have helped torestore more than 17,000km ofhedgerow. The good news is that birdspecies that nest in hedges, such asblackcap, whitethroat, long-tailed tit,chaffinch, greenfinch, goldfinch anddunnock have all shown increases overthe past 10-15 years.

The creation of ourWe tend to take many of the

features of our countrysidefor granted, assuming they arenaturally occurring.

We forget it is largely a workedcountryside rather than a naturalone and that farmers manage andmaintain 75% of it.

At the same time as producinghealthy, nutritious food, farmerstake their roles as countrysidemanagers very seriously. Here aresome key environmental featuresto look out for next time you visita farm…

Page 9: NFU Farm, Food & Countryside


The pondFarm ponds were traditionally created byfarmers to provide water for stock. Inrecent times farmers have dug small lakescalled reservoirs to collect winter rainfallwhich is used to irrigate crops in thesummer. The number of ponds in GreatBritain increased by 11.1% between1998 and 2007 to an estimated total of487,000. They provide habitats for arange of species such as ducks and frogs.

The copseThe copse or spinney is a small group oftrees and shrubs. Since 1990, farmershave planted over 90 million trees.Copses act to break up the opencountryside and provide stopping offpoints for species such as deer.

The ditchDitches, or dykes, are small watercoursesaround fields that drain the land so thatcrops can be grown. Unlike streams theyare not natural but have been dug byfarmers. Their banks provide habitat forcreatures such as voles and plants suchas primrose.


The old barnBarns provide the architecture of ourcountryside. They were built to storecrops and house animals in bad weather.They provide an important nest habitatfor species such as the barn owl, swallowand bat.

Page 10: NFU Farm, Food & Countryside


Brown hare populations have increasedby around 50% in England since the lowpoint in the mid 1980s. Other mammalsare also showing healthy increases inpopulation sizes, including the weasel,stoat and polecat.

Most British birds of prey haveshown good increases in the past30 years, most notably thebuzzard and the sparrow hawk.

Bio-diverse BritainIt is often assumed that wildlife is in decline or under some sort of threat. While it is truethat some species of animal and bird have declined since the war, there are others that arestable or have increased in the past 50 years.

Having suffered setbacks in the 1960sand 1970s the otter is now making acomeback in Britain.Otters are goodindicators of river quality because theyneed clean rivers with an abundant,varied supply of food and plenty ofbankside vegetation with secludedsites for their holts. After many yearsof absence the number of otters hasincreased significantly, especially inthe South West.

According to the British Trust forOrnithology (BTO), three of the mostcommon wildfowl on Britain’s waterways– the mallard duck, the greylag gooseand the mute swan – have and continueto rapidly increase in numbers.

Fish populations in London rivers havesteadily increased in number and variety.

Page 11: NFU Farm, Food & Countryside


For the first time in 300 years we have wild boarroaming free and proliferating. Similarly, the rednecked wallaby can be seen running free in thecountryside. Some swear we also have pumas andlynx at large. But don’t have nightmares, there isnothing to fear from the countryside and its wildlife.

Did you knowBritain is home to:1.5 million hedgehogs

31 million moles

41 million common shrews

75 million field voles

38 million wood mice

*According to JNCC Review of British mammals 2005

Bats are often used as UK wildlife healthindicators. Increasing population trendswere seen from 1999-2006 in commonpipistrelle, lesser horseshoe bat anddauberton’s bat.

The decline in some farmland birdsduring the 1970’s and 80’s has stabilisedsince the late 1990’s. However, the causeof more recent declines in the pastcouple of years are poorly understood.The continued work by farmers on agri-environment schemes helps thesefarmland birds cope with other pressuresthat are beyond our control, such as theimpact of climate change. The goodnews is that some farmland birds – thegoldfinch (left), the whitethroat and thereed bunting have all increased by overa third.

Page 12: NFU Farm, Food & Countryside


Did you know?

For every hectare of Englishloamy soil there will be fourtonnes of earthworms, tentonnes of fungi and one tonneof springtails, spiders, beetlesand snails.

From the worms wriggling through the soil, to the beetlesscuttling about on the grass (go on, kneel down and take alook!) farmland is teeming with plant and animal life.

Farmers are passionate about making their land a great habitatfor a range of animals and plants – more than ever before aretaking part in what are called ‘agri-environment schemes’ toencourage more wildlife onto their farms.

In 2009, almost two-thirds (65%) of suitable agriculturalland was part of one of these schemes. Farmers taking partin those schemes:

WhyFarming Matters!

Dig new ponds for frogs, newtsand all the animals that rely onthem for drinking water

Invite schools and groupsto look around their land

Encourage wild birds onto theirland by growing crops that thebirds can feed on and onlycutting their hedges during thewinter so that nesting birds willbe undisturbed

Restore hedges that weretaken out in the 1960s and 70s

Leave wide margins at theedge of fields for wild plants,butterflies, insects and birds

Create beetle banks so thatbeetles can get from oneside of the field to another

Page 13: NFU Farm, Food & Countryside


Some of the things you might seegoing on in the countryside

The Farmer’s

yearGrazing seasonThe grazing season lasts for six to eightmonths depending on the weather andthe location of the farm in the north orsouth of Britain. Most cattle are broughtinside for the winter and fed mainly onhay or silage. Cattle and sheep outdoorswill also be given supplementary feeduntil the grass starts to grow again inthe spring.

Lambing and calvingMany sheep and cattle have their

young inside to protect them fromharsh weather conditions, but those

arriving later in the spring may be bornoutdoors. Ewes and lambs, and cows

and calves spend the warm summermonths at pasture.

Fertilising/field operationsFertilisers and crop protection productsare applied to crops when necessary,according to their stage of growth.During the spring, farmers cut grass tobe made into silage – this is a way ofpreserving grass so it can be fed tolivestock during the winter months.

HarvestArable crops such as wheat and barley areharvested at the end of the summer once

they have had time to ripen. If theweather is wet during harvest, the grain is

brought inside to be dried ready forselling, or for storage. Improvements in

crop breeding and growing methods haveincreased the harvesting season for crops

like strawberries, and some, like cabbage,are harvested every month of the year.

Page 14: NFU Farm, Food & Countryside



land preparation andfarm maintenance





harvestfruit & vegetables

grain & other farmed crops

The Farmer’s


Page 15: NFU Farm, Food & Countryside


Page 16: NFU Farm, Food & Countryside


Pigs and poultryPig and poultry units produce meat (pork,chicken and turkey, for example) andeggs from both indoor and outdoorsystems. Outdoor pigs often have accessto ‘arks’ – small shelters to give themprotection from the weather – and alsoenjoy mud bath areas. The most popularbreeds of pig in the UK are the BritishLandrace and the Large White, althoughthe Duroc breed is popular for outdoorsystems. Poultry breeds include Cobb andRoss for meat and Isa or Bovan for eggs.

Dairy cowsMost dairy cows are milked twice a day,

and spend the rest of their time eating orlying down chewing the cud. This process

is an important part of digestion, andrefers to the way cows regurgitate food

they’ve already swallowed and chew itagain! The most common dairy breeds in

the UK are Holstein Friesians (pictured)but you might also see Ayrshires, Jerseys

and Guernseys.

BeefBeef cattle are reared on a combination of indoor systems, oftenon large straw yards, and outdoor, grass-based systems. Themeat differs in flavour and texture according to the system ofrearing, the breed of the animal and the age it goes toslaughter. Traditional UK beef breeds include the Hereford(pictured), Lincoln Red and Aberdeen Angus, but continentalbreeds like the Limousin, Charolais and Simmental are verycommon now.

SheepMany hardy breeds of sheep live outside year round, but most come

indoors for lambing before going back out in the spring. Typically, hillbreeds like the Herdwick, Scottish Blackface and Swaledale (pictured)

produce breeding stock for lowland farms, where breeds like Texels,Suffolks and Charollais are common.

farmSome of the livestock you mightsee in the countryside

Animals on the

Page 17: NFU Farm, Food & Countryside


Where does our food come from?Mostly it is grown at one of the farmsthat stretch across the length andbreadth of the country.

But what does that mean in moneyterms? What part does it play inthe economy?

Agriculture and horticulture contributearound £5.8 billion to the UK economy.

Because everyone needs to buy food,even during a recession, farming canstill do well and continue to keep peoplein employment. Over half a millionpeople are employed in agriculture. Thewider rural economy employs about 5.5million people.

Farmers are used to looking afterthemselves so they are very independentand always looking for ways to makethe most of their land and buildings.Over half of the farms in England have‘diversified’ – opening farm shops,

holiday cottages and outdooractivities, for example. If you go into thecountryside you might even see signs fora Maize Maze – a great place to getcompletely lost!

Many farms are directly involved inrural tourism which generates around£14 billion a year.

Farmers are committed to theirbusinesses and have worked hard tomake them successful – so much so thatin 2008 farm incomes increased by overa third.

WhyFarming Matters!


Page 18: NFU Farm, Food & Countryside


Shop at a farmers’ marketSince their inception in 1997, farmers’markets have become remarkablypopular for the discerning shopper.There are now over 500 regular marketsaround the country – attracting millionsof customers who are looking for fresh,local produce.

Look out for the Red TractorThe Red Tractor on pack proves it’s been produced to stringent standards that are subjectto independent inspections. These standards cover all aspects of farm production, fromlooking after the countryside to food hygiene and how animals are cared for, to what theyare fed. It also rewards the hard work of the farmer who cares as much as you do.

Red Tractor assured products can be found in all the major supermarkets, independentretailers and a growing number of restaurants and pub chains with the Union Flagconfirming that it is quality food from Britain – guaranteed.

Look for seasonal foodOur mild climate means that we cangrow a dazzling variety of vegetablesand fruit, all of them delicious andhealthy! Take a look at the chart onpages 12 and 13 to see when differentfoods are in season – remember if youbuy British your food will not havecollected food miles while travellinghalf way around the world.

Buy local,buy seasonal,buy BritishShopping in today’s hectic world can be a rushed affair.A multitude of labels, kitemarks and logos do nothing tomake it easy. Always look out for signs that say ‘Producedin Britain’ rather than ‘Packed in Britain’.

Use a farm shopThere are over 3,000 farm shopsscattered throughout Britain’sbeautiful countryside – each ofthem giving the visitor a delightfulopportunity to access local, fresh,seasonal food and drink.

Page 19: NFU Farm, Food & Countryside


Great British recipesThese simple, nutritious dishes are made using fresh produce which everyone will enjoy.

Chicken andMushroom Stroganoff

Serves 4

Red Tractor British chicken skinless fillets cut into strips

1 knob of Red Tractor butter

2 tsp oil

1 small Red Tractor onion, finely sliced

150g Red Tractor chestnut mushrooms, sliced

75ml white wine

75ml chicken stock

1 tsp whole grain mustard

1 x 150ml tub soured cream

Bunch of fresh Red Tractor parsley or

Red Tractor thyme, chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the butter and oil in a large frying pan. Cook the onion

for 3 – 4 minutes until soft and beginning to colour. Add the

chicken and cook for 5 – 7 minutes until golden brown.

Add the mushrooms; cook until soft and most of the liquid

has simmered off.

Add the wine and boil for 5 minutes to reduce by half. Then

add the stock, mustard and soured cream and bring to the

boil. Season and add the Red Tractor parsley.

Serve immediately over noodles or rice.

Raspberry and WhiteChocolate MuffinsServes 8300g Red Tractor plain flour2 tsp baking powder150g Red Tractor caster sugar75g white chocolate, chopped1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla extract200ml Red Tractor milk50g Red Tractor butter, melted100g Red Tractor fresh or thawed frozen raspberries

Preheat the oven to 200°C, 400°F, Gas 6. Place 8 papermuffin cases into a muffin tray, or line with squares ofgreaseproof paper.

Sift the flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl, thenstir in the sugar and chopped chocolate.

In a jug, beat together the egg, vanilla extract, milk andmelted butter. Add to the dry ingredients with the raspberriesand stir until just combined. Do not over-mix.

Spoon the mixture into the paper cases. Bake for 20-25minutes until well-risen. Cool on a wire rack.

Cook’s tip: Another time make the muffins with RedTractor blueberries instead of raspberries.

Page 20: NFU Farm, Food & Countryside


Where does your Sundlunch come from?

British free range chickenOver a third of the meat we eat in Britainis chicken – it’s tasty, versatile and easy toprepare. Eating chicken is also said tomake us happy – packed full of aminoacids that produce serotonin, thehormone that helps us feel cheerful.

BroccoliCrammed full of vitamins andantioxidants, broccoli is proven to reducethe risk of cancer and is considered agreat source of energy.

PotatoesThe humble potato is an all importantpart of the perfect roast and there areover 80 varieties grown here in the UK.

Every year the average person eats 500medium sized potatoes. That’s just aswell, as potatoes are packed full ofgoodness – an average sized potatocontains over half the recommendeddaily amount of vitamin C.

Try roasting some butternut squash withyour roast potatoes, one of the newvarieties of vegetables that Britishfarmers are growing.

Roast chicken dinner


Page 21: NFU Farm, Food & Countryside



BreadA true staple of the British diet which hasbeen around since the Stone Age. Wheatis the central ingredient and UK farmersproduce around 15 million tonnes eachyear. Bread is also baked full ofnutritional benefits including fibre,calcium, vitamins and iron. As a nationwe munch our way through 10 millionloaves of bread every day!

SugarBritish produced sugar comes from sugarbeet. There are over 4,000 sugar beetgrowers in the UK. When sliced andboiled it makes a sweet liquor fromwhich sugar is then crystallised. This isthen packed and can be found on thesupermarket shelf.

Summer fruit pudding

BlueberriesA relatively new crop in Britain, you can now enjoyhome-grown British blueberries during the summermonths. Believed by many to be the “ultimate super-food”just a handful of blueberries contain the same amount ofage-defying antioxidants as five servings of other fruit andvegetables. A recent study even concluded that around100g a day can stimulate the growth of new brain cells!

Blackberries andraspberriesAlong with other soft fruits, blackberriesand raspberries are carefully harvestedby hand. Find them on the supermarketshelf, the local pick-your-own, or evenfind blackberries growing wild inhedgerows on country walks.

CheeseThere are over 700 named British cheeses in the UK, fromthe well know Cheddar and Red Leicester to the more exoticCaerphilly from South Wales. Commonly produced fromcows’ milk, you can also find British cheese produced fromgoats’ and sheep milk.

Every year 400,000 tonnes of cheese is produced in the UK,- that’s more than the weight of 60,000 elephants!

CreamThe perfect accompaniment to a plethoraof puddings. This indulgent treat, incommon with other dairy products,contains bone and teeth-strengtheningcalcium. There are around two millionadult dairy cows in the UK producingmilk to drink and milk for a range ofother dairy products.

Page 22: NFU Farm, Food & Countryside


Farming timeline

Ever wondered whether the food you eatcosts more or less in real terms than it dida generation ago? Imagine the Averagefamily sitting down to watch Englandwin the 1966 World Cup final whileeating a meal. Compare it with watchingthe England cricket team playing againstAustralia for the Ashes in 2009. Mr orMrs Average would have to work for alot longer to pay for their lunch in 1966than they do in 2009. For example, if

1750: Beginning of theagricultural revolutionbrings in new machinerysuch as Jethro Tull’s drill,new breeds of farmanimals and root cropssuch as swede andpotato from theAmericas introduced.

The open field system isabandoned and land becomesenclosed into single fields. 200,000miles of hedge are established.

Agriculture is moreproductive and can feedthe fast growing towns.Only 22% of the 21million population isemployed in agriculture.Famine is rare, with theexception of Ireland.

1900: The steam engine powersmachinery such as ploughs andthreshing equipment. Railways movefood such as milk quickly from farmsto towns. Free trade policies andcompetition from America pushfarming into economic decline.

Railways open up thecountryside. Start ofrural tourism.

Rampant urbanisationbegins. Cars and roadsallow urban workers tolive in rural areas.

Dairying becomes important.Imported sea bird droppings(guano) provide a new andimportant fertiliser.

1800 1850 1900

1850: Horse drawnreaping and threshingmachines introduced.

Page 23: NFU Farm, Food & Countryside


Things have changed a lot over the past two hundred years. At the beginning of the 1800s,the agricultural revolution was in full swing – with new machinery and new crops fromaround the world. Take a look at the timeline below to track the changes, and to seehow much the price of food has dropped in comparison with the weekly wage.

1950:Widespread use offertilisers allows croppingwithout animal dungwhich causes the declineof the mixed farm.

Diesel powered tractorsand harvesters replacemen and horses.

Mechanisation requireslarger fields and manyhedges are removed. Themotor car causes increasedurbanisation of thecountryside. Population at55 million. End of foodrationing imposed duringWorld War II.

1975:Most farmsnow have electricityand telephones.

New varieties of cerealsand fungicides doublesyields in 30 years.

Sugar beet becomesan important crop.

Artificialinseminationimproves farmanimal genetics.


Tree cover rising. Demise of the elmtree due to dutch elm disease.

The yellow floweredoilseed rape becomescommon in the landscape.

Only 3% nowemployed in farming. Countryside

equivalent to fivetimes the size ofCambridge lostevery year.

2000:Mechanisationcontinues and the number offarmers and workers falls by50% in 25 years.

After decades oflosses, hedges are onthe increase again.

Number of ponds increasing. Lessland under cultivation-farmersrespond to conservation challenge.

100,000 people movingfrom town to countrysideevery year.

2002: Auto steertractors incommon use.

1950 1975 2000 2002 2010

Institute for Animal Health©

Conservation of the countrysidebecomes a serious political issue.

Mr Average were on an average salaryfor the time he would have to work for44 minutes to buy a joint of beef in 1966– now he has to work for less than 26minutes to buy the same joint. In 1966 itwould take 25 minutes work to buy aloaf of bread – in 2009 that would nowtake less than four minutes. In real termsfood in Britain has never been soaffordable as it is today. Modern Britishagriculture helps deliver that affordability.

2009: The productivityof UK agricultureincreases by over 55%since 1973.

2001: Defrareplaces MAFF.

2009: Over half of farms inEngland diversify beyondcore farming activities.

Page 24: NFU Farm, Food & Countryside


We have all seen the oilseed rape thatblazes with yellow flowers in May andJune. Most of it goes to make vegetableoil for cooking – for example inmargarine, but it also has an increasinglyimportant role with other crops, toreplace the damaging fossil fuels used topower our cars and machinery.

Using plant oils and other biofuels toreplace petrol and diesel is a way ofmoving to a ‘low carbon’ culture andcutting down on greenhouse gases.

Cars which run onagricultural productsSince 2008, the government’s RenewableTransport Fuel Obligation means that allfuel for road vehicles must contain 2.5%biodiesel or bioethanol (made fromagricultural crops) rising to 5% by 2013.

Biofuels from the UK achieve high scoresfor sustainability and can save over 50%on greenhouse gas emissions.

Did you know?

A field of oilseed rape the sizeof a football pitch can provideenough fuel to power theaverage family car for one year.

A growing number of cars andsome farm machinery, such astractors, can be fuelled bybiodiesel or converted to runon plant oil.


POWER!Everyone’s heard of climate change – but what does it mean to farmers? Farmers see it everyday on their land – and six out of ten say that they are already affected by it. They are keento cut down on emissions from their own land and are also uniquely placed to provide manydifferent kinds of renewable energy such as biofuels.

Plant power is being harnessed tofuel a car for Jonathan Scurlock,who is the energy advisor at theNFU. His Audi A6 diesel runs onpure vegetable oil fuel producedby British rapeseed growers.

He can now drive around thecountry on business without evervisiting a filling station!

Page 25: NFU Farm, Food & Countryside


Farmers are also investingin new technology to createelectricity on their farms.There are lots of ways of doing this:harnessing the power of the wind withwindmills, growing energy crops likemiscanthus and short rotation coppicewillow for local heating or powerstations, or turning manure and silageinto biogas.

There are a growing number of anaerobicdigesters making biogas on farms in theUK. The farmer collects all the manuresfrom the farm (this has the advantage ofreducing one of the greenhouse gasesproduced by manures – methane) andmixes them with farm silage in a largetank. Bacteria in the manure breaksdown this mixture to produce biogas,which is then burned in a generator tomake electricity. What’s left can berecycled and used to improve the soil.

Using anaerobic digestion, farmers canmake enough electricity for their ownfarms, as well as selling the surplus tothe national grid to power hundreds oflocal houses.

Anaerobic DigesterMiscanthus

Page 26: NFU Farm, Food & Countryside


The applianceof scienceFrom the invention of the steel plough inthe 1800s, to the use of robotic milking,science and technology have played acritical role in farming’s ability to produceenough food to keep millions of peoplehappy and healthy.

The whole world is now facing a difficultchallenge. The number of people isincreasing while climate change ismaking it harder, in some places, togrow food.

It is clear that British farmers will needto respond by producing more foodwhile keeping the impact on theenvironment to a minimum. This willonly be possible with new and improvingscience and technology.

Imagine using a satellite to guide yourtractor. Many farmers are now using

precision farming – using mapping,remote sensing, data technologies androbotic technologies to manage cropsprecisely and accurately. For example,a GPS (Global Positioning System)receiver on an auto steer tractor allowsplanting between last years rows in ano plough system.

The tractor can be used in the dark andwill not overlap on fertilisers or cropprotection products – saving money andclimate change emissions.

Thousands of animals were affectedby the bluetongue virus in northernEurope during 2007 – at a cost of almost£100 million. Fortunately scientists hadrecognised this threat and started toprepare a vaccine to protect the livestockof the UK.

Did you know?

Artificial insemination (AI)has revolutionised livestockproduction. It is now standardpractice in all systems,including organic.

AI allows female animals to beinseminated without the male(for example a bull) beingtransported to the farm. It alsomeans that semen can be tradedaround the world, which alsobrings greater genetic diversity.


Page 27: NFU Farm, Food & Countryside


About this booklet

The NFU is the voice of British farming. And there is littledoubt we always need to work to explain what farmersdo and the benefits we achieve for the nation and itspeople. While we will be producing an in-depth reportaimed at policy-makers, we also wanted to produce abooklet that would explain the facts to the people thatlove the countryside and enjoy British food.

If you are inspired to find out more about farmingplease go to and if youwould like any further copies of this booklet [email protected]. The first10 copies are free but we ask for a contribution of£5.00 P&P for 50 copies and £10.00 P&P for 100copies. Details of payment options will be given onreceipt of the order request.


Page 28: NFU Farm, Food & Countryside