Farmers rarely get a good press, ‘when have you ever seen a poor farmer’ is the question often asked whenever the state of agriculture is discussed.
Aria Foods who source milk for many supermarkets has announced a cut in the price it will pay farmers for milk, including the supplies it obtains from the Claymore Creamery in Nairn. A penny or two doesn’t sound much to the consumer but will make a difference to farmers, many of whom have already left the dairy industry.
The reality is that our farming industry is in a mess, the average age of a UK farmer is around 60 with few younger people wanting to enter the industry.
Much is made of the EU subsides paid to farmers, but the UK is not always the real winner, and do we really want to encourage set aside, not using the land?
The current credit crisis has highlighted a need to produce more of our own products but many farmers feel we are just not geared up to do so, for too long we have relied on cheap food imports.
One Nairn farmer now makes the majority of his money from growing barley for the whisky industry and from rent from holiday homes, neither endeavour is putting local food on our tables.
The very success of the likes of Aria Foods in screwing down prices paid to farmers is ultimately going to lead to a crisis in UK farming in the not too distant futures, certainly not a case of jam tomorrow