If you don’t ask, you won’t get

Through your life, certain phrases develop more meaning, you remember them and they make you think. Our family has a few, like: ‘Smiles bring sunshine’, ‘Never give up as enthusiasm brings luck’ and ‘If you don’t ask, you won’t get’.

These have come to the forefront of my thoughts in recent weeks following Government releasing the ‘Health and Harmony’ Consultation document about how the UK’s agricultural bill will look, following our departure from the EU. This document reads as a series of questions to everyone in the UK to have their say on what they want in the new agricultural bill to be written later this year. Buzz phrases of “Public money for public good”, “World-leading welfare”, “Polluters pay”, “Increased productivity” and spelling out a new “GREAT Britain campaign”. It paints a very green and pleasant land of better welfare, higher yields and more biodiversity in the countryside with the government asking for ideas, thoughts, and answers to solving the conundrum posed of keeping everyone happy.

The Government has asked for responses and everyone in the general public has a right to answer, not just farmers. I hope many of you have done this by now but please do so if you have not already. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for consumers, producers or basically anyone who eats, drinks and breathes. The government is open to ideas. If you don’t ask you won’t get!

I am in a generation of farmers that will hopefully farm longer within the new Agricultural Bill than the old EU Common Agricultural Policy. I will be one of a really small group of people also known as the farmers who will try and implement this new age approach to agriculture. I have had my say by hosting DEFRA officials on my farm, attending numerous consultation meetings and responding online and by email.  I have taken this opportunity to try giving examples of how the onerous red tape in farming can be reduced, giving ideas to increase productivity and show how biodiversity on farms can be increased by simple take-home messages.

Defra visit

Defra visit

I urge everyone but especially fellow farmers to respond before the 8th May. No one can be too busy, as this will have a huge impact on us all, but most of all on farmers who will have to put it into practice.

Be enthused to respond and hopefully with any luck we will get a workable bill that will deliver for farming, food, natural environment and every creature big and small that lives here, so when the sun shines we all will smile knowing that we had our say through this opportunity!

Online response found here: https://consult.defra.gov.uk/farming/future-of-farming/



Brian and his cousin Patrick run E.J. Barker & Sons, a family farm partnership and contracting business in Suffolk dating back to 1957. The 667ha arable farm business is farmed on 12 - and nine-year rotations, incorporating winter wheat for feed, spring barley, herbage grass seed, oilseed rape and a break crop of beans, linseed or peas. Environmental consideration is crucial to the running of the business, and remains a key factor in all decision-making on farm.

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