"Give a man a reputation as an early riser, and he can sleep ’til noon." Mark Twain
The uplift in cattle prices of recent weeks slowed in week ended 11th May read more
With more new season lambs entering the market, the dynamics of the trade have started to change read more
Provisional data for April milk deliveries of approximately 1,111m litres are 93m litres (7.7%) down on the previous year read more
In April, the DAPP averaged 160.9p/kg, almost 4p up on the month. At the same time, the average retail price came down by a small amount read more
The GB weekly average price fell by £7.68/t to £295.35/t and the free-buy average fell by £22.02/t to £368.39/t. read more
The first USDA estimates for world production in 2013-14 forecast record maize and wheat production, citing larger planted areas and a rebound in yields from the US (maize) and the Former Soviet Union (wheat) read more
The USDA has released its first soyabean supply and demand estimates for the new season read more
UK malting barley export prices are at €245/t FOB (spring, South Coast) w/e 11th April. read more
The latest National Statistics produced by Defra on the activity of UK hatcheries and poultry slaughterhouses. read more
USDA’s latest quarterly stocks report, released on 28th September, estimated US maize stocks (at 1st September) at 25.1m t, down 12% on the same point in 2011 and the lowest since 2004. read more
Feeding the growing world population will require farmers to utilise every tool in the box, farmer and TV celebrity Jimmy Doherty tells Iona Walton
Jimmy Doherty may be best known for his TV work, but at heart he’s a scientist torn between his love of farming and a career in research. Born in 1977 he studied zoology at Coventry University, then did a PhD in entomology. He then left academia and set up a pig farm in Suffolk, but his science background drives decisions on his own farm and gives him a depth of understanding when visiting other farm businesses around the world in his life as a TV presenter.
“Science has an integral role in farming,” he says. “I’m astonished the Government doesn’t invest more in research and development, it’s the lifeblood of the agricultural industry and there’s a lack of funding. Our manufacturing industry has all but disappeared, but we still have the chance to sell ideas.”
From travelling around the UK and the world Mr Doherty has come to view farmers as being forward-thinking, investigative, level- headed business people “with a few mavericks thrown in too” who are extremely positive about the contribution of science.
“A decision needs to be made about the future of genetically modified crops and I believe that when it comes to feeding the growing world population we’re going to need every tool in the box,” he says.
Mr Doherty has chosen rare breeds as the selling point of his own pork but is an advocate of large commercial farm businesses along with small niche enterprises.
“I’m not chasing an idyllic dream,” he says of his Suffolk farm, home to 80 sows, a farm shop, butchery, restaurant, nature trail and exotic butterfly house. “Farming is my business. We sell to the end user in our shop, online and through meat boxes, so employ four full-time butchers on site in addition to 11 other staff members.”
The recession hit relatively hard at Jimmy’s Farm and he has experienced a 30% decrease in footfall at his farm shop, but other aspects of the business have seen an upturn, balancing revenue issues, and his TV work helps to pay the bills.
“More people are going on day trips as opposed to holidays so our nature trail and butterfly centre have been particularly popular, and Harvest at Jimmy’s, a food and music festival that we host on an annual basis is bringing in thousands more visitors every year,” he explains.
“I’ve seen excellent examples of different production systems around the world and think there’s room for everyone. What people buy is what gets produced. Large commercial systems and small niche set-ups can learn from one another and it’s vital that all types of farmer increase dialogue, stand together and thus obtain more leverage. A fairer share of revenue is needed down the chain.”
While Mr Doherty would like to see more independent retailers on the high street, he recognises that the reality is that supermarkets are the main buyer of commodities.
“UK farmers are doing a great job and on the whole are undervalued. I’m routinely surprised at how farmers can produce more for lower financial rewards, but they could sell themselves better and need to pay more attention to branding. Communication between producers and the public has improved, but there’s scope for further progress. Most people would rather buy UK produce than foreign imports.”
The core issue for Mr Doherty is quality food produced with sustainability in mind while retaining the home market. “With proper backing the UK farming industry offers real promise, but we don’t need empty promises from Government,” he says. “There’s a huge growing public interest in agriculture and farming and the outlook is positive.”
For more information visit the website at www.jimmysfarm.com.
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