Shottle farmers – proud as peacocks,
Turnditch farmers – poor as crows,
Idridgehay we dursna’ speak of,
How they live, God only knows.
Old Derbyshire Rhyme
Farming has always been a precarious business, more so since cargo ships and refrigeration opened us up to cheap imports from the New World. Market prices, the weather, pests and diseases – they have a lot to contend with.
Since the Second World War they have been encouraged to produce as much food as possible, and given state subsidies, broadly based on how much land they farm. An inefficient system, and now about to change dramatically. Environmental improvements to encourage diversity of plants and wildlife, and public access -these, over time, will become the basis on which subsidies are paid.
There is also a drive to plant more trees, for ‘carbon capture.’ I’m not so sure about this in our small, overcrowded island. Here at Staunton Harold a quarter of the estate is woodland already; I doubt that we will be adding to it.