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Interview with Chris Freeman, farmer




Interview date: 6 December 2002

Interview location: Goosey House Farm, Goosey, Faringdon, Oxfordshire SN7 8PA

Interviewee: Chris Freeman

Interviewer: Eka Morgan

Transcript key: EM: Interviewer Eka Morgan; CF: Chris Freeman




6.0.           EM: Introducing your self


6.1.           CF: Err Iím dairy farmer from Goosey in Faringdon, Oxfordshire


6.2.           EM: I missed, err if you just start again Iím missed your


6.3.           CF: Chris Freeman, dairy farmer living at Goosey near Faringdon


6.4.           EM: Brilliant, okay, lovely, okay, well, as you know itís going to be a mammoth interview, weíll, weíll see, weíll see where we fair, but Iím going to start with some, some quite big questions, umm, thought the first one is quite simply I think, which is, how did you get into farming


6.5.           CF: Basically it was breed into me I suppose, both parents farmed and I love cows, I love the countryside so it was a logical, thing for me to do, I couldnít, I, thereís no way I could sit in an office all day


6.6.           EM: There was no hesitation


6.7.           CF: No, nothing what so ever, same with my two boys, both my boys are going into agriculture, theyíre exactly the same, no hesitation what so ever, itís just what they want to do


6.8.           EM: And would, had you done something else, would it have deeply upset your father at the time


6.9.           CF: Yes, I think probably would have, yes, although he did have, he was working jointly on the farm and with my grandparents, his, his mother, his father and mother who had a coach and haulage business so, he wasnít totally a hundred percent farming but err, if I hadnít have gone into farming I think, heíd have been very disappointed probably


6.10.       EM: Youíll have seen quite a lot of, changes within his lifetime, even before you started farming, but letís maybe just start with what changes youíve seen in the time that youíve farmed


6.11.       CF: Where do you start, umm, the size of farm is one, and the units, back in Ď70s when I started farming, sixty cows you could make a living out of, youíve got a job with six hundred now, you know, itís just the way, the, not saying the, the priceís drop but the price relative to all the in-goings has dropped, all the costs have gone through the roof, but the milkís, if you actually looked at it, itís one of the cheapest foods pro-rota in price rise that there is, as far as the producer is concerned, Iím not saying it is on the doorstep but as far as what weíre being paid, I think we worked it out the other week and umm, the food for, had gone up about three times as much as the milk price has, thatís just on the feed alone, and everything else was the same, itís just the costs are forcing us out of business basically, thatís the biggest change and youíve got to get bigger to have the number of cows producing the number of milk to m, meet your overheads and, you see itís just like umm, chasing your tail all the time, never seem to, ha, ha, you think youíve got there and then they change the ball park again and you have, ha, ha,  to, you have to start again, and get bigger


6.12.       EM: Has it effected your passion for farming


6.13.       CF: No, no I would never, I still want to do anything else, umm, and probably if my kids have de, but neither of my sons had wanted to come back, that would have, I might well have got out, thatís, Iíve got two sons here, so, oneís going farming, oneís back with me, the others just finishing college this year, so, thereís no, you know, Iím, Iím committed to farming for the rest of my life and I will try and set them up so they can do what they want to do for the whole of their life


6.14.       EM: And where do you see the cause of that, huge change, where, where do you, do you think, w, w, what do you think is responsible, for that incredible change in, being able to cope on sixty cows and now not even six hundred


6.15.       CF: The, it stems from the Governmentís attitude really, they, to keep the voters happy, they want cheap food, but they want us to, weíve got the highest welfare standards probably in the world, for the livestock, weíve got the highest, I think overall, weíve got probably the highest standards right across the board with the, the way crops are grown generally, you know, itís very clean, everythingís done right in this country but, then they say, well yes but we can get it cheaper abroad, the, the cows are kept in slurry up to their waist in slurry and all, horribly ways in which theyíre kept in some of the countries, but they donít care about that, you know itís like umm, a double standard, we want, we want everything kept better but weíre not going to pay you shit to do it


6.16.       EM: [cough], sorry, [cough]


6.17.       CF: Umm, then it goes on, I suppose then, you have to say, I was at a meeting the other week, a village meeting where, weíre having to sell the farm here because with the two boys coming back itís just not big enough to, the family farm, itís not big enough for us to earn a living off of, weíre taking a tenancy on a bigger farm down in Sussex, so weíre moving to Sussex, my next door neighbours, just sold up, his family farm been there for I donít know how many years, another, the other neighbour whoíd been there for, I think itís eighty years, a family farm, theyíre selling up next year, and the one down the road has been farming in the village for over a hundred years has been on the market so, everybody said, you know, itís going to change, this village and as one person stood up, weíre all to blame, we all want cheap food, and umm, I suppose, Iím no different to everybody else, I donít like paking, paying over the odds for food, you know Iíve, itís the way we are, I always try and buy the cheapest, but I always try and make sure itís British, but with the new, markings in supermarkets, itís very hard to know what is British, itís all, you bring it in to this country, itís manufactured in, umm, cut up in this country and therefore you can sell it as made in, as British pork, and itís wrong, it should be the area, it should be the country of origin, I think, not the, cause a lot, we had, I was quite active as FFA, the Farmers For Action, and we were in Tescoís supermarket at Abingdon, having a peaceful demo, no there, the people in the store were, okay no problems, a lot of people came up to us and we said, we just donít know how to get hold of British food, and for it, there was one example there, it had a big Union Jack for British over the top of the, cauliflowers, you looked in the cauliflowers and about three-quarters of them, came from, were imported from France, well, I, I, there were some British ones there, so I suppose you could say that, but I would have thought if I was going as a shopper, I would assume that everything underneath the Union Jack was British, it would be a logical assumption but err, itís ways of getting round the, the advertising standards I suppose


6.18.       EM: I want to ask you about Farmers for Action, but there are several things youíve mentioned, I want to just ask you about as well, just to start with, have you visited farms abroad to, to, to really see the standards first hand


6.19.       CF: I havenít but my son has, heís been umm, France, Holland, Belgium, America, Canada so he has seen a lot of whatís going on around the world so, umm, he hasnít always been to the worst ones, you know, but he says, even over there, the standards and the record keeping are no where lot, what they are in this country, and umm, so, I personally havenít but yes we have


6.20.       EM: On thing is, when you touch that, it does, the microphone picks it up, itís fine, itís fine, fine, ha, ha, and also, you say that all the farms here are selling up, some of them have been a hundred years and


6.21.       CF: Yup


6.22.       EM: Is there a resentment, a resignation, whatís the kind of moral


6.23.       CF: I think youíve hit the nail on the head, resignation, they umm, our neighbours theyíve been farming, theyíre two brothers all their lives, umm, I think the el, younger one is seventy tow and they moved, theyíve been farming in Goosey since 1924, so basically thatís the whole of his life in Goosey, umm, and they just canít make ends meet any more, so there, theyíve decided enoughís, enough. They want to have some life, none of his sons are interested in farming, his brotherís got one whoís interested in the farm, but err, he canít afford to buy out his cousinís so, thatís going to go as well


6.24.       EM: And you said everyone holds there hands up and says itís cheap food, I mean is that what they really feel, they donít resent


6.25.       CF: I wouldnít say, I havenít said everybody said that, but there was somebody at the meeting did say that, and umm, I think you know, people are, they, well I think itís a case of people say they want the local farms, they want farmers, but, they want, theyíre not prepared to put their hands in their pockets and pay for it when they can get cheaper food from abroad, I can understand their, their attitude, you know, none of us like paying more than we have to, but they canít say they want farmers, farming kept here, thereís, they say itís terrible that the farmers are having to sell up what, you know, what can we do, and thatís it, you know, either you have to put your hand in your pocket and give us, so that we can have a, I donít want to be mill, as I said before, I never want to be a millionaire, I, Iím not in farming to be a millionaire, all I want is enough, Iíve got three children, all I want is enough to keep a shirt on their back, and food on their plate, thatís all, thatís all I ask and at the moment we canít do it, itís impossible, with the prices weíre being, the majority of it being, the milk prices has just crept up slightly but still, the majority of them are, the prices are way short of, break even, the arable crops canít break even, I was at a big meeting the other week and umm, a lot of farmers are saying, reckon within two years they, they wonít be able to afford to buy the seed to plant the seed, the banks wonít let them, so itís not just the livestock, itís right through farming, itís umm, I donít think there is any part of farming, that I know of thatís doing really well


6.26.       EM: And do you think that all these farms will be bought by one, one person, theyíll be amalgamated


6.27.       CF: No, most of them are being bought by London business men, with city money buying them, theyíre knocking the buildings down, planting trees in the fields to make a big country park which, by all accounts and purposes it seems that Mr Blair, thatís what he wants, thatís what the Government wants, they want a park for all the people to come and, walk in, but what theyíve got to realise is that, someoneís got to keep that, mow the grass in the park and if youíve got no farming, it, it wonít get done, and the farms, the countryside, just going to turn back to wild terrible stuff, it wonít be anything like weíve got now, you wonít be able to see anything of the countryside, itíll be overgrown hedges, weeds, four or five foot tall, nothing, no livestock in the fields, not that thereís a lot in a lot of the fields now a days, but itíll be less then


6.28.       EM: So there are a lot of separate buyers, buying these


6.29.       CF: Yeah


6.30.       EM: And each one turning it into a little haven


6.31.       CF: For themselves, you know, knocking


6.32.       EM: For themselves or for visitors


6.33.       CF: No, just for themselves, a few horses, some, some are gam, they get, they put trees in, theyíre getting grants to put trees in, make woods


6.34.       EM: Second homes


6.35.       CF: Well, no, most of them are first homes and commute, you know, itís, and well I can thing of, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven farms within two miles of here, thatís happened to


6.36.       EM: What would you, given the option what you would have rather, that state of affairs or one person buying it all and making a huge farm out of them all


6.37.       CF: I think oneís as bad as the other, ha, ha,, umm, I think itís terrible that, families who have farmed the farms for generations canít afford to carry on farming, I think itís a travesty, I think itís so sad that, these generations of farmers are being driven out, off the land,  they reckon that there is, err, farmers now is the highest rate of suicide in the country, f, f, f, per, per, per profession, and I think itís terrible, so sad, you know itís, I suppose you could say Iím no longer a sm, family farming, weíll farming as a family down there, but itís not on a small family farm you know, itís a eleven hundred acres, so itís a, quite a big farm, but err, weíre still farming it as a family, but we no longer own it, you know, weíre at the beckon call of some else, which, isnít my favourite way of going, but at the end of the day, if I want to keep farming itís the only way I can do it


6.38.       EM: So, back weíll go back, weíll revisit the present and the future but letís, letís backtrack a bit, this farm is three hundred and sixty acres


6.39.       CF: Yup


6.40.       EM: How many, in your lifetime how many people has that employed, on and off


6.41.       CF: Well to start with, mum and dad, started it up on their own, we had, then, we had seventy acres, they then bought another fifty acres next door, which, when dad had his other business, so we had, he wasnít here full time, so you could say they lived off it, but it wasnít the whole income, umm, and we had a herds, herdsman, which, who we continued with when we were down there, and then, my son came back from college and the herdsman retired, which worked out very nice, within six months of each other so, basically itís umm, been three people, well thereís myself, my mum and dad and either my son or my, the herdsman, err then we, what happen was our neighbour, he packed up farming, got out of dairy farming and we were able to rent his land, which pushed us from the hundred and twenty up to the three hundred and rent a bit of grass keep down the road off another farmer whose cut right back, and one across the Green, but umm, itís all where people have stopped farming, both, all, both the land, all the land that we rented in the village next door to ours, is all, were farms, and are no longer farms, we just rent the land, the houses, other people live in the houses


6.42.       EM: And could you describe, just very briefly, your average day, if, I know at the moment youíre going to and from Sussex, but if, if, were you, if you can take yourself back to when you were working here, what would be your kind of average day, getting up and the amount of different chores, and



6.43.       CF: Well we, we start at, five oíclock in the morning, milking, and you have to feed the calves, clean out, bed up, feed the cows, by the time youíve done all that itís usual, that takes you through, well, we stop, I, I never have breakfast so I never used to stop, but my son had breakfast and then weíd have lunch about, for about, we used to stop for about half, three-quarters of an hour for lunch at about half past one, then weíd go back out and carry on, feeding, bedding up, and start milking again at five, and get in about half past nine, ten oíclock at night, seven nights, seven days a week


6.44.       EM: What about the arable side of it


6.45.       CF: Well, we have no arable here, we had contractors doing all the, growing all the maize here, umm, itís going to be very different down in Sussex, because weíve got eight hundred acres of arable to do as well, so, we have got a tractor driver down there, weíve taken on the tractor driver whoíd been there twenty six years, Iíve, Iím very great one, who, admires faithfulness in, in someone who, at work and I was only too happy to take on, heís an excellent chap and we were, only too happy to have him coming on board, but itís going to be very different when we get down there with the arables, the maize, you just, we just got the contractors in, because we didnít have the bigger machinery here, weíre, weíve just been and bought a lot down for, for down there on that land , that acreage, they used to come in, plough it, drill it and then weíd harvest it in the autumn so, it was, we were just doing the, livestock all the time, if I was doing it, seven days a week umm, oh my son, was, was going on basically, he was doing a fifteen hour day, five days, seven days a week, he never, when foot and mouth came, he never had a day off for, two months, he just did those hours fifteen hours a day, seven days a week for two months, and for him to come on to carry on afterwards, it shows his dedication to the job, heíll, itís something he loves and he wants to do


6.46.       EM: And, what, just to understand the contracting out, so you, is that the land that you owned, you contracted out


6.47.       CF: No, we, we have, we got agricultural contractors, umm, what they do is they come and, they have their, you, you, you hire the plough the driver and the tractor off them, they come in and do the work, and then go home, because we canít afford to have umm, big tractor and a plough just for our sixty acres, so you b, buy them, pay them to come in and like umm, a drills twelve, ten thousand quid, well, you couldnít, it was cheaper to pay them I donít know, what it be umm, nine hundred pounds to drill the seed than it would be to pay fifteen thousand to buy a new drill so, you pay it, hire it, basically the contractors, you hired them in to do the work for you, you know, they came did all our grass silage, because, thereís, we, weíd have, you know, we didnít, have the labour force or the equipment to do our own, because we cut it down, there was basically, we were, there was just anthon, ant, my son Anthony and myself doing everything


6.48.       EM: And that did, that was profitable, that you


6.49.       CF: No


6.50.       EM: buying, selling, no, ha, ha


6.51.       CF: Ha, ha, no, no, itís not, umm, farming hasnít been profitable for a few years, umm, thatís why weíve made the decision that weíve got to, you know, itís a big decision, it wasnít one we came out easily but weíve had, we either had to, change or get out


6.52.       EM: And what do you parents think of about the fact that youíre , leaving Oxfordshire


6.53.       CF: Theyíre sad that, we canít carry on with dairy farm, the family farm, but they realised that itís just, the family farm no longer is economic, you, you canít make a living out of it, youíve got, youíve got have more cows, bigger acreage, it just, there just isnít eco, economics and we got as big as we could get here, umm, with these new, nitrogen vulnerable zones that have come in, where you canít spread muck on certain fields on certain times of the year it mad it impossible with the number of cows to improve, increase the number of cows with the land that we had, so, that was another reason why, we, for having to move on, where we are, you got all the arable, you can spread muck in different places, err, err, various fields, different times of the year, but when youíre on a small farm youíre very restricted, ha, ha


6.54.       EM: And apart from things like tiredness and things like that, what, how, how have the occupational hazards changed in your farming life


6.55.       CF: I donít know, I think sometimes I must feel like a leaper these days, in socially, umm, oh God, youíre a farmer, you live on handouts, no we donít, not on dairy, we have quotas, weíre restricted to what we can produce, we have virtually no, handouts what so ever, I think our total income, I think was about thirteen hundred pound, they, theyíve taken all the cull cows away, they all have to be slaughtered and burnt now, thatís cost us approximately five hundred pound a cow, for every cow weíve got rid of, so, say you have twenty percent on two, a hundred and fifty cows, thatís thirty cows a year, so thatís fifteen thousand pound a year just gone off the bottom line as well, itís all these things are added together, the calves they started, stop the export of calves, thatís made a different, at best about ninety pound a calf on, seventy, eighty calves a year, it, itís all, all money coming, going out of the, off the profitability, umm, making it unprofitable to farm I suppose would be the best way of saying it


6.56.       EM: Umm, all the recent knocks like BSE and, and Foot and Mouth, but prior to that in your early days farming were there similar kind of knocks, or does it feel like it really has just been the last decade or so


6.57.       CF: The last decade has been, is, I said to my son, heís seen more changeís in the world than I, in the last fifteen years, since heís been here, than Iíve seen in fifty years, forty eight years, both in the world and in farming, you think about umm, all the time I was young you had the East West with the Berlin Wall, thatís gone in his lifetime, farmingís been decimated in this country in his life time, I, I, just so much has been decimated, and so much is changing, and I donít think, not just in farming, but most of it is for the good, I think thereís so much more wants doing for people, but all the Government cares about is if theyíre going to get back in power, they donít care whether, what they do, how it helps people, they just worry about getting back in power, and they donít always tie up, two different things


6.58.       EM: Can you, was the bit, was BSE the first big thing that really


6.59.       CF: Yeah, thatís the big, the other big bug bear, we never had a case of BSE, weíve never had a case on this farm, and umm, they, theyíve band all these things that cow sales and that, calf sales, cause of BSE, weíll weíve never had one, so why should we be punished with them, itís like umm, like drivers, driving down the road and getting banned because, cause, two thirds have park, err the, people have been, banned for just speeding or drinking and driving, you know, if, if you donít do it, why should you be penalised


6.60.       EM: How exactly did it penalise, it, it meant your


6.61.       CF: Well, that, that, they drop, all the prices dropped on the cattle, umm, the pri, cull cows, as I said just now, weíre loosing five, its cut, dropped five hundred pound a cow from before umm, weíre lucky to get just around three hundred now, on the Government schemes whereas before we were getting eight hundred, nine hundred pounds, thatís a lot of difference, when you sell a cow and calf, there was a very good calf trade, export to the cont, you know, it was all done properly, the calves were well looked after, just taking them across, just across the Channel, now theyíre being transported in good knows what conditions from Poland to France, what, why arenít the, upset these animal welfare people getting on to that, surely itís better to have them looked after properly and just popped across the Channel, umm than having them shot a birth, cause thatís whatís happening to most of them now, theyíre being shot at birth, thereís one farmer, he went it, there was one farmer I heard of, the hunt went and, went in and shot seventy cows in one day


6.62.       EM: Where was that


6.63.       CF: Umm, that was down err, I think that was actually down in West Sussex


6.64.       EM: And, I hadnít totally understood the reason why


6.65.       CF: But, there, thereís no, no sale for the calves


6.66.       EM: Itís just not worth


6.67.       CF: W, when you could sell a calf for a hundred pounds, you know, you could make a, you could keep them live for three weeks just until you sold them, you get them right, you could make sure they were looked after, you know if you had one ill you could treat it, if youíre not getting paid anything you canít afford to do that, you, youíve got to put tags in everything, you have to get passports for them, the easiest thing is just to shoot them at birth


6.68.       EM: And that, he was then finishing his whole business was he, or was he just


6.69.       CF: No, no, no, he was carrying on dairying, but he was just shooting all the bull calves, were being shot at birth, thereís, and that was a big herd and he, he, they block calves so they had a lot being born at one time and the hunt went in and shot seventy calves in one day, they, it destroys me seeing them come and shoot two or three here so what the hell it did to them I donít, I, I, I couldnít stand that, itís a horrible thought, I hate it, I ab, we shoot them cause we, weíve had nothing else we can do with them, nobody wants them, now especially with this twenty day stand still, itís made it even worse, we still, you canít umm, very difficult for people to take cattle onto there farm when theyíre got a twenty day standstill so


6.70.       EM: Can you explain the twenty day standstill


6.71.       CF: If you bring a cow onto your farm, you cannot sell, move an animal off it for twenty days, unless itís going for slaughter, whether itís as, as a fat animal for food or whether itís going to the, abattoir, thatís the only ways you can move them, an animal off, if you, if you watering that animal for twenty days, so if they want to, a lot of calf rearers, they buy calves, rear them for a while, and then sell them as wean calves, well, if youíve got to keep them stood still for three weeks, you canít, if youíve got a batch to come that means you canít buy a calf in for three weeks before hand, and itís just crippling a lot of the businesses


6.72.       EM: And thatís since foot and mouth


6.73.       CF: Yes, how, how much good it does, I can understand it on the sheep, but I really donít, with dairy, and beef, I really donít see what theyíre hoping to gain by doing it, I, I, really canít see that, the sheep were being moved around a lot they, theyíve, theyíve said that but, fine, if thatís what they want to start with sheep, but why cripple every other facet of farming as well, by the same rule


6.74.       EM: So what wouldíve your solution been post foot and mouth, for


6.75.       CF: Keep the cow and shoot the bloody politicians, ha, ha, ha, umm, I supported Chris Day, thereís a hun, homeopathic remedy that will stop the spread of foot and mouth, itís been proven, but because there was no gain in it, it meant the Government couldnít shoot the cows, the animals, they, cause a friend of mine who lost his, herd up in Cumberland, in Cumbria, they, theyíre, theyíre friends searched and all the compensation, came from the European Stock Production Fund, apparently, Tony Blair had agreed to reduce the number of specialist sheep in this country, two years, two years before Foot and Mouth, which I didnít know, nobody knew, this came to light afterwards and, if theyíd have stopped the spread of Foot and Mouth, they wouldnít have been able to, do it, I, you can call me cynical, but I, nothing will convince me from, the chain of events and what Iíve been told by, from a foreign diplomat that they know that it wasnít accidental, the out break of Foot and Mouth was not accidental, it was deliberately put on us, and Iíve, I find it very difficult to believe, to doubt that, the chain of events do rather point that way to me


6.76.       EM: What about the aspect that it so crippled the tourism industry as well, you wouldnít have thought a Government would want that


6.77.       CF: I think they, I donít think they ever dreamt it would go the way it, it went, umm, it totally got out of control, he was totally focused, it was, it what cames back to what I said earlier on, all he was worried about was getting, he new that the, weíve heard this year, just recently, when he did the, that he, that heís got their sums wrong, itís going to be a lot harder than what they thought it was going to be, economically, Gordon Browne said, he was desperate to hold the, election then, while everything was looking good, and he was so desperate to get back in, that he didnít worry about, the Foot and Mouth, until he suddenly, it got out of hand, and he had no choice


6.78.       EM: So you think it was a strategy to cut down on the sheep stock


6.79.       CF: I think so


6.80.       EM: Not the, not the cattle


6.81.       CF: I think so, why my, I know someone who works in Newcastle docks, why was the MAFF bringing in boat loads, Ministry of Agriculture, bring in boat loads of timber into the North East in January, in the Jan, the month before Foot and Mouth started


6.82.       EM: You thing it came from timber


6.83.       CF: No, they were importing the timber to burn the stock, theyíd already started, that, this was all planned, I, Iím, you can call me cynical, but this is the way I see it, and Iím not accusing anybody but itís the way I see the chain of events, itís a well known fact, that the viral of this strain went missing from Portland Down, err, Foot and Mouth di, virus, I was, it, this, it is supposedly just after, found to have gone just after some Ministry vets visited Portland Down, the farm where is was first found, was in the North East, where this person whoís a Dock Manage, manages in the docks says MAFF were importing all this boat loads of timber, in sleeper sized, in December, goes back to actually before that, November, December, they, they did a, inquiry, MAFF did about the supply of sleepers, in January theyíre importing boat loads of sleeper size timber from Sweden, thereís, the farm where it started was being regularly, investigated by and visited by Ministry vets, and for most of the country whereís the most out of, out of way place, Northumberland, I think what happened is, it was deliberately started and it all snowballed through the sheep moving around the countryside, and got totally out of, I, they went places they never dreamt it would go and got totally out of, they went places they never dreamt it would go, and thereís one thing thatís, stuck in my mind, that Gordon Brown said, not Gordon Brown, the umm, ministry of Agriculture, canít think of his name now, said, weíve killed enough stock now, those words are very prophetic to  me, and the other thing is, it crippled the countryside, what was happening in March, are, the two, three weeks after it started, it would have been the biggest ever anti-Government demonstration with the Countryside March in London, just before the election, he was planning to hold an election, and Iím certain that he, he would do anything to stop that, and he did, Iím positive of that


6.84.       EM: The timbers, I donít make, get the connection with timbers and burning, killing livestock


6.85.       CF: With Foot and Mouth you saw the pyres in the countryside, you have straw and you have sleepers, or timber


6.86.       EM: You need sleepers for the


6.87.       CF: To, to, to build the pyres


6.88.       EM: Burning pyres


6.89.       CF: to, to burn, to burn the cattle, why else would they buying that, bring in that sized timber


6.90.       EM: is there any other use for it


6.91.       CF: No, not for the Ministry of Agriculture, and


6.92.       EM: Has it


6.93.       CF: the week, the middle of March, I was told, I, well, our neighbour, whose got a horse stables err Swedish diplomat told us, told, said there, that they know for a fact that it wasnít put on us, it was an accident, it was deliberately put on us, the Swedish Government apparently know that, or knew that should we say now


6.94.       EM: And has this theory been


6.95.       CF: Why


6.96.       EM: Aired at all


6.97.       CF: Umm, why havenít we had a, Foot and Mouth, havenít we had a proper


6.98.       EM: Review


6.99.       CF: Review of it, Iím


6.100.  EM: But has


6.101.  CF: You call me cynical if you like but I, I, I look at the facts and Iím sorry, ha, ha


6.102.  EM: Do you think it had got national, I mean, have you seen that kind of theory in any national papers or in


6.103.  CF: No because


6.104.  EM: Farmers weekly even


6.105.  CF: No because, maybe, I donít, how, how widely known it is that the MAFF were apparently importing timber, I only know what this chap told me, umm, I donít know how widely itís known that other Governments knew it was deliberately put on us, you know, I donít know those kind of things, but it does, I do rather, I think theyíd have got a very bad press if theyíd a few full umm, canít think of the word


6.106.  EM: Inquires


6.107.  CF: Inquiry into it, because theyíre handling of it was diabolical, you only had to look at the documentary they did on the, I think it was Brigadier, that sorted it out in Cumberland, Cumbria, and his, the attitude of sorting it our, there was one thing that always sticks in my mind, they said weíre going to try and get it sort, he says no, you donít try and do it, you do it, and it was like, different attitude, it was the only thing that got it done, he wasnít, weíll try and get this done, weíre try and get that, no, youíre going to get out there and youíre going to do it, and that was why I think what bought it under control in Cumbria


6.108.  EM: Gosh, well we may return to Foot and,  Nick Brown, is that the name the person


6.109.  CF: Nick Brown was the one I was talking about, there, there was other thinks that happened with it as well, Iíve got somebody who farms up in Yorkshire, their neighbour had foot and Mouth, their neighbour had Foot and Mouth, they reported it the day that he was going up to York, Tony Blair went to Yorkshire, with saying the countryside is open, this that and the other, just it started, that started there, there was that late outbreak in Yorkshire, it was the first one there, he reported it on the morning, no the night before I think it was, there were, tankers were going all the way round, from that they went into his farm, picked the milk up and went on, nothing was done, nobody go, no form was issues, no notice, nothing, half an hour after Tony Blair left the area, the Ministry were in there, vets, and shot every single animal, they got everything ordered and organised and it was all shot but it just started, just so happened to start, half an hour after they left the area for their political rally, I know, my friend who farmed next door was furious, cause he lost his pedigree herd and that was, theyíd been going for generations, one of the oldest herds in the country, itís you know, umm


6.110.  EM: Seems relentless the number of knocks, really


6.111.  CF: Yeah


6.112.  EM: Farmingís had in the, well let me


6.113.  CF: Yeah, thatís the trouble


6.114.  EM: Well let me, let me go on, get


6.115.  CF: Sorry, I rant


6.116.  EM: No, no, no itís all absolutely relevant, umm, but weíll come back to a lot of it, but one thing I want to know, as, as a farmer, I know a lot of farmers, perhaps less so in Oxfordshire, do feel quite isolated, and that, kind of, no one really understands them, like you were saying earlier, you feel like a leaper sometimes, how, how do, how much do you feel in contact with the outside world beyond farming


6.117.  CF: I think since Foot and Mouth probably not as in, as much as I was before, because we never left the farm for four months, and never saw anyone for four months, you know, we just, we put a barrier at the top of the drive, the only people we saw were when lorries came in and we sprayed off the wheels, umm, we never went shopping, never went out, I never saw two of my kids for three, for two months, cause Emily was doing her A-levels so she went and, stopped with some friends in Wantage so that she wasnít affected cause were in it, we were in an infected area here, and my son was working on a farm during his middle year, he, they had, a case of foot and mouth next to them, they lost fifteen hundred sows was shoot on their farm, so I said no I didnít want him coming back just in case, there was anything there and he bought it back, so I never saw either of them for two months


6.118.  EM: So how did you cope with shopping and things, who, who


6.119.  CF: Well, dear Mr Tesco, we used to do it on the internet, and heíd, heíd come down and meet, weíd meet him, by the mats, heíd drop, drop them off, weíd, we unload the shopping into our baskets and bring Ďem in


6.120.  EM: You literally didnít go out at all


6.121.  CF: Didnít go out at all


6.122.  EM: The entire, for four months


6.123.  CF: Umm, trying to think when we first went, I, I had to go out and sign some forms for some milk quota, I meet that chap at Sainsburyís in Swindon in the cafť, so that, heís an agent, so thatís the only place we could think of were we could meet easily, otherwise I never went off the farm until, must have been July, yeah four months


6.124.  EM: And you couldnít have visitors


6.125.  CF: We didnít have any visitors, no


6.126.  EM: And that was your mum , your dad, you


6.127.  CF: And my son


6.128.  EM: So you really were a prisoner on your own farm


6.129.  CF: Yup, they had some friends come to see them so they went, they walked up to mats and chatted to them, up on the road, half way up the drive


6.130.  EM: When you say the mat


6.131.  CF: We had disinfectant mats on the drive that you had to drive over, and, to, every time you went in and out


6.132.  EM: Could you not have just done that each time you wanted to go out, just disinfect yourself and


6.133.  CF: Yeah but then, how do you make sure you donít bring it back in on your cloths


6.134.  EM: Do you think it was the right thing to do


6.135.  CF: Oh yes, weíve, we got, a very highly regarded pedigree herd, Iíd like to think, yeah, probably, one of the bet, the better ones in the area, well, we went to Newbury show this year and we won five out of the six prizes so it canít be too bad, umm


6.136.  EM: Thatís Holsteins


6.137.  CF: Umm, pedigree Holsteins, yes, weíve imported a lot from Canada, Germany, theyíve come from Holland, Denmark, France, embryos from America, you know, weíve got a, tremendously high, umm, quality pedigree herd


6.138.  EM: Are they not that common


6.139.  CF: And thereís no way, you know, some of them, thereís one, one of them, thereís only one other member in the count, country, you know thereís very few, you know, thereís


6.140.  EM: Of Holstein, only one in the whole country


6.141.  CF: No, no, no, of that family


6.142.  EM: Oh right


6.143.  CF: umm, weíve got some of the most famous families in the world are here, and err, both on this continent and from America, and we just wanted to, you know, we, we spent a fortune and our livelihood, lifetime building it up, and we just wanted to do everything we could to protect it


6.144.  EM: And you did manage


6.145.  CF: Yes, thank God, ha, ha, I think that would have killed me, that would have decimated me if Iíd lost that lot


6.146.  EM: And the embryo, when you say embryoís from America, how does that work


6.147.  CF: We import frozen, you can import frozen embryos, umm, they come over to this country, you know, theyíre, theyíre, the cows are super ovulated they take embryos out, freeze them in liquid nitrogen, transport them across, put them in a surrogate motherís here and get the claves born here


6.148.  EM: Gosh, so


6.149.  CF: We do a lot of it here ourselves, we do a lot of flushing, Iím actually licensed to implant, and I was one of the first people in the country to be licensed and implant embryos on my own cows, I had to go and do a university course down at Bristol University, at the vet, the veterinary centre down there doing umm, to do an epidural, I had to do an exam and fifty umm, supervised epidurals and then do a practical examine and then I was allowed to do it on my, on my own and


6.150.  EM: Itís called flushing


6.151.  CF: Super ovulation and umm, multiple err, they call it, the, the umm, one herd up north is called the, the rigenous what was, used to be the MMB, Milk Marketing Board, is they had the MOETS, Multiple Ovulation and Embryo Transfer?? Is what they, stands for, so how do you find out about the embryos in the US, well, umm, web, websites, contacts


6.152.  EM: And thereís a particularly pedigree that one


6.153.  CF: Yup, you just look for sales, you know, some people have bought pedigree, embryos in, and you buy the dams out of the embryos that have been, you donít necessarily buy the embryos, I,  Iíve never actually bought an embryo from America, Iíve bought some from Canada and that was a disaster, but thatís another story, and umm, what we tend to do is buy, weíve tended to do is buy some old cows, the most valuable, highly rated cow we ever had here cost fifty thousand dollars when the guy bought it in America, in Canada, err, and we had two off of him and we looked after them and flushed and we had heifer calves for looking after them for him and they, they cost eighty thousand dollars for the two


6.154.  EM: How does the embryo arrive, in what, how does that work


6.155.  CF: Well, you super ovulate the cow, just like you do with humans when youíre doing it umm, in-vitro fertilisation for humans, then, I, I artificial inseminate the cows with the bulls semen for three days, well, three times, over two days, and then you literally flush the cows out with a special solution, you get someone err, a technician in or vet to come in and, they, theyíre, itís a specialised job, there are only about three or four in the country that do it, they come down, take the embryos out, look at them, find them, check, check what you take out underneath the microscope, you either put the, embryos into surrogate mothers or you, if youíve got too many you freeze them and them in a flash, Iíve got a flask here on the farm, and Iím licensed to store em, embryos, I had one of the first on-farm licenses in this country too


6.156.  EM: And how long can it last frozen


6.157.  CF: Years, years, you know, itís just like human embryos, umm, embryos and eggs, you can keep them frozen for years


6.158.  EM: So if thereís a power cut and that kind of thing


6.159.  CF: Oh, doesnít matter cause theyíre stored in liquid nitrogen, which is, getís topped every two or three months and you literally, thereís no power or anything like that, itís a very simple storage system


6.160.  EM: Thatís quite extraordinary, and what does your father make that kind of thing, I mean he canít have imagined seeing that kind of technology


6.161.  CF: No, ha, ha, he didnít, he never could, umm, heís, yeah, he, he agrees, itís made us, got us where we are, that, thatís how we, we I managed to get hold of some old, wonderful pedigree cows and then Iíve just, developed on, I got a reputation and people started sending me cows, for what Iíd started doing with one or two, and umm, it just snowballed from there, and Iíve had some, very famous cow, well there, the Canadian Holstein Association in their magazine for the centenary, the end of the century did umm, they featured eight cows that had got umm, featured through the main stays of the Holstein breeding America, Canada, and it turned out that we had progeny off of five of those, of the eight cows on the farm, which we didnít realise, ha, but when we look back in the pedigrees we, we had five, five of the top eight, descendents from five of the top eight cows in the world


6.162.  EM: So j, excuse my ignorance about it all, but


6.163.  CF: Not at all


6.164.  EM: Cause the, when, to make a pedigree embryo, does the cow, does both the bulls sperm and cow have to be pedigree, or can it be

6.165.  CF: Oh yes, yeah


6.166.  EM: They both have to be


6.167.  CF: No they has to both be pedigree


6.168.  EM: So you imp, you get from someone else


6.169.  CF: We, we import the umm, most of the semen we use on flushing comes from either America or Canada, mostly those two, we, you, have used a bit from, Italy have got some very good bulls coming through now, mostly from American breeding I have to say, cause they, the Americans sent a lot of, help, because the, after the second world war, the cow population virtually wiped out in Italy and of course with all the connections with America, a lot of cows got sent over, and that to, to help restock and of course thatís, helped bring them up, in the, the world, rankings, but basically we, bring in the, the top pedigree bulls, semen from the top pedigree bulls in the world, are put into our cows and then flush the embryos out and either keep the resultant heifer calves for ourselves or sell some, if you had a good flush you can have an, I think the most weíve had out of a, daughters out of a flush is about seven or eight, so you can sell two or three, make a bit of money and, keep, keep some for yourself


6.170.  EM: And how can you guarantee what that youíre, what youíre getting is quality


6.171.  CF: Thereís no guarantee, what guarantee is there about any breeding


6.172.  EM: Because also in America they have different standards of hormone implants and that kind of thing, how, how would you know to prevent that


6.173.  CF: That wouldnít affect embryos


6.174.  EM: What about preparing


6.175.  CF: Cause theyíre literally taken out, theyíre, theyíre literally taken out at theyíre, theyíre, theyíre, theyíre taken out of the cow, cow, seven days after theyíre fertilised


6.176.  EM: But is the mother had, had, hormones


6.177.  CF: But that, that, that, that wouldnít, cause theyíre taken out at such an early stage, the eggs have only split, I, I, the cell, the egg cell only split about four or five times, and thatís why, you know, you have no problem with that side of things, because, they arenít old enough to get influenced by the, now if youíre brining cows over, yes they could, they could be, and thatís, thatís what you have to watch bringing live, live ones over but, thatís the other thing, it, the hormone implants in the, in the beef and that, weíre not allowed to use them in this county, but theyíre quite happy to go and buy the beef from abroad thatís l, laced with it, cause they donít, most of the people donít know where itís coming from, cause itís bought into this country and then manufactured in this country so, cut up in this country, so itís sold as British beef, manufactured, umm, done in this country


6.178.  EM: Yeah, I want to, bit later Iím going to ask


6.179.  CF: Yeah


6.180.  EM: You more about labelling, so, so for, for, err, all of that resulted from the question, umm


6.181.  CF: Yeah


6.182.  EM: How, how do you keep in contact, you were saying well actually since foot and mouth you hardly had any


6.183.  CF: Yup


6.184.  EM: Contact


6.185.  CF: Yup


6.186.  EM: What about how do you keep in contact with, farming issues, in terms of the NFU or


6.187.  CF: Well


6.188.  EM: Farming Weekly, I mean, what, what, keeps you in touch


6.189.  CF: We, we, we, we, you have, documents sent round, you read the press, umm, you can learn a lot, much more, then, them, from them, than you ever can from the NFU, we all know what NFU stands for, the ones N, the first wordís No and the other oneís Use, and you can work, you can work the middle one out for yourself, ha, ha, umm


6.190.  EM: Are you a member


6.191.  CF: I am, because itís no good complaining about it if you donít stand up to try and, Iíve been to meetings to try and change their attitudes, I will stay as a member, so that if the, the opportunity stands I will try and, I think theyíve got to change, the people at the top, I think are too interested in getting a title for themselves as oppose to whatís right for farming


6.192.  EM: And do you


6.193.  CF: I really believe that, thatís all theyíre after, is the title at the end of the day, lots of them, Iím not saying all of them, but a lot of them seem to be


6.194.  EM: Do you feel at all represented by it


6.195.  CF: So, so, not, I, I, I think they could do a hell of a lot more for farmers than, they do, do, you know they had nothing to do, all these demonstrations of the FFA, NFU didnít want anything to do with it


6.196.  EM: Do you feel that theyíre not radical enough as an organisation


6.197.  CF: I not say I say radicalís enough, I donít, I donít like being radical, Iím not a radical sort, Iím a very, stable sort of guy really, but you comes to a time when, you canít make a living out of what you want to do, and somebodyís making billion pound profit, on your back, you, say, youíve got to say, hey, hang on a minute, you take a million pound less and we can all have ten quid, yeah, thatís all, weíre not asking them to make a loose, all, all we want them to do is give us a fair chunk of the, the pie


6.198.  EM: But isnít being, being part of Farmers For Action, FFA, isnít that a radical


6.199.  CF: Well, Iíve, I have to say that Iíve stepped back a bit, because I think they are getting too radical


6.200.  EM: How did you get involved with the FFA


6.201.  CF: Somebody, a good friend of mine, sheís been very involved with it, right from the, the original days, before FFA where, when there these demonstrations with, for calves going abroad and stuff like that, and she said to me, youíve ever been on a march and I said no, I said why not, I, I, she said, she said why not, I said, cause nobodyís ever let me know when anythingís going on, if I donít know anythingís going on, I canít do it, she said right, so she rang me up, and said, we got something going on Saturday can you let some people know in your area, and I thought well, whatís the point of complaining if youíre not prepared to stand up and be counted, and those days when, it was all peaceful, you just went and blockaded in, a supermarket delivery set, set in place, you know, you werenít disrupting the public, Iím, I was a bit, I know it wasnít just farmers but I think a lot of it was the FFA did try and get on the, I think they got on the back of, what the lorry drivers started doing with the fuels demos, umm, I wasnít totally in favour of that


6.202.  EM: What day did the FFA start then


6.203.  CF: When did it start, I havenít the foggiest, ha, ha


6.204.  EM: Had it, did it exist before, and this was the milk quota issue


6.205.  CF: Itís been going on for a while I think, umm, by people, started up by people who were just feed up with the NFUís inaction, and they decided weíve got-a-do, they decided weíve got to do something, umm, but, you know, I,Iím,, Iím a law abiding, Iíd never willingly do anything that broke the law, and if the police said open it, Iíd move, you know, Iíd, happily more on, sort of thing, Iíd never, knowingly break, do anything to break the law, and, I just feel theyíve got a little bit too radical for my liking personally


6.206.  EM: But the issue you got involved with them was milk quotas


6.207.  CF: Milk price


6.208.  EM: So the blockading was


6.209.  CF: That was done of, of the umm, basically of the supermarkets umm distribution centres, so that they couldnít take them , food out to the shops


6.210.  EM: How do you feel about supermarkets in general


6.211.  CF: I should think, well, on the milk side of things they seem to be coming round, they realise that unless they, because they need fresh milk, you canít import fresh milk, youíve got to produce it in this country so that they can have it on the shelves and if there isnít enough, then their, they canít produce it, to sell it, have it there to sell to their customers and they realist that whatís happening with the dairy industry is, they arenít going to have enough in a couple of years time, we arenít going to have enough in a couple of years time, we, we arenít going to make, they reckon weíre not going to make quota again this year, and quota I think is, weíre about seventy, eighty per cent self-sufficient on, with the quota, I might be wrong, but thatís what it was, and umm, they realise that they arenít, arenít going, a lot of dairy, but, of the cheese and butter places last year didnít have any fresh milk it was all imported, milk powder, stuff like that, was going into it, so they, they say at some stages last year, anyway, they, you know theyíre got no choice, if, if they donít support farmers and get some back to make farmers economic, theyíre up the cheek without a paddle as well, you know, theyíre canít put it on the milk, like ours has to be collected every night, we were with Express, weíre with express here, it has to kept, collected every night so it can be, everyday or night, whichever it is, they run their lorries twenty four hours a day, so that they can have fresh milk on the supermarket shelves, you canít do that if your importing it from France or Germany


6.212.  EM: Do you feel that they have too much control


6.213.  CF: Yes, and nothing will be done of it, we all saw what happened in umm, during the foot and mouth, Tony Blair went out and said, supermarkets have got farmers under their thumb and whoís their biggest supplier, backer, Lord Sainsbury, they all support, one supports one party, one supports the other, so who, whoeverís in power, they get a huge part of their income, comes, the party income comes from supermarkets, so they just call, whichever supermarket is, calls the tune, and I, Iím, Iím sorry but thatís the way it, it seems to me


6.214.  EM: Do you


6.215.  CF: How, how they can have somebody who runs, whoís in charge of a supermarket, advise him on farming, I donít know, because itís conflict of interest


6.216.  EM: So would you have preferred small shops and local businesses to survive and to sell your


6.217.  CF: Thatís why Iím selling to who Iím selling to


6.218.  EM: Who are you selling to


6.219.  CF: Well, weíre now selling to Southern Milk, which is a small co-op selling locally, down there


6.220.  EM: So youíve managed to avoids, youíre out of a  supermarketís loop


6.221.  CF: Yes, at the moment, ha, ha


6.222.  EM: But you have been in their gridlock


6.223.  CF: We were, we were when we were with Express Dairies here, now down in Sussex, we going be, weíre with Southern Milk, which is err, a small co-op, thatís a farmers that sells their milk locally in Portsmouth and Southhampton


6.224.  EM: And sis you find, feel yourself pressurised by supermarkets err, or


6.225.  CF: Oh yes, a whole


6.226.  EM: Could tell me a bit about it,  I mean many people feel that they canít, I remember, I remember several tele, television programmes with people, you know blackened out, anonymous, you know, farmers not wanting to speak openly about


6.227.  CF: Iíve never had any problems, Iíve had, Iíve been interviewed on various television places about it, umm, there are certain things that happened, and I wasnít involved with and Iíll stand up and say, yes I was there, I was aware of it, but I would have, I had nothing to do with it, and nor would I have anything to do with it, Iíve, as I said I, Iíve only ever done anything, as far as Iím aware, Iíve never done anything that was illegal, umm, I never would do anything that was illegal, umm, I think, umm, my soul crime is I broke the speed limit when I was seventeen and thatís thirty one years ago and that was like, thatís the one and only thing that Iíve ever done wrong, that Iím aware of, ha, and umm, I, Iím, quite happily stand up and say what I believe in, what I thinks wrong, and be recognised, I, Iíve got nothing to be ashamed of, Iíve done nothing to be ashamed of, if theyíre got to be blackened out, I, I, they must be doing something to be ashamed of, illegal, or something, and Iíve got no, no problem with, I donít agree with that, if there in a side of farming, thatís intensive, and there are a lot of people out there who have been attacking intensive set-upís and stuff, I can well imagine them not wanting to stay anonymous because, they donít want anybody come and knock on their, on their door in the middle of the night with a firebomb or something, I can quite understand that, but err


6.228.  EM: Do you


6.229.  CF: I look, I love my cows, I look after my cows well, weíll I like to think I do anyway, umm


6.230.  EM: Do you feel there was a moment when it could have gone the other way, where, where local businesses could have thrived and, supermarkets wouldnít have held farmers in a gridlock


6.231.  CF: Yes, but, umm, that was a long time ago, you know, before this crisis ever started, that was build thirty years ago


6.232.  EM: Do you think that enough fuss has been made of the growth of supermarkets and out of town


6.233.  CF: I think itís terrible for the, umm, if you actually, I saw some programmes on television, they were doing, shops in local, going into, various shops, picking it up, and going to the supermarket and what they actually bought, was about thirty per cent more expensive at the supermarket, itís convenience, itís not necessarily cheaper, but itís convenience, and if people are happy, their happy to get in the car and drive out, to out of town stores, youíre causing more pollution, by driving everywhere, driving out into the town, these big stores, they probably get more money out the consumers, because they walk round these big stalls with all the stuff there, and they sya, oh, that looks nice, weíre open that, oh, weíll have a bit of that, and I think a lot of people probably spend more, than they really wanted to, maybe more than they can afford to, you know, the kids come in, and they want this and that, itís very not to, with your kids, Iím a father I know, Iím no different to anybody else


6.234.  EM: It comes as a surprise to me, I, you know, I am an urban person so I, you know I havenít, Iím not as in touch as you are with, with countryside issues but, for instance the Countryside march, the Lib, the Liberty March this year


6.235.  CF: Yeah


6.236.  EM: It, I often wonder why, many of those same people didnít take to the streets when supermarkets, when there was a proliferation of supermarkets being built out of town, umm, out of towns and small shops were


6.237.  CF: Nobody, was, the Liberty and Livelihood, whatís happened now, probably the, it started with hunting, probably, yup, with the, them, want to ban, theyíre trying to control everything that happens in the countryside, urbanise it, itís not urban, itís countryside, itís not an extension of the town, thereís two very different places,  the foxes in the country are very different, are a different breed, a different type of animal to whatís in a town, you know, Iíve seen both, I live in the countryside, I love seeing foxes around, but I also support hunting, I donít actively go hunting, but I support it, Iíve, weíve seen hunting on the farm, the, theyíve caught foxes on the farm, Iíve seen the foxes theyíve caught, they were either weedy, slightly, you know, not right, the good, big, healthy foxes, pugh, theyíve gone, you donít see them for dust, so what you do, do is, your tending to kill the weedy stock, they killed one on the farm here that had been hit by a car and had gangrene, well they saved that fox from a, horrific death, and letís face it, anybody who knows anything about a gangrene would agree, for any animal itís the worse kind of death, something like that, much worse than a quick bite in the neck, and this thing about ripping foxes to death, pieces, alive, Iíve seen foxes killed, umm, Iím sorry, no, doesnít happen, Iím not saying it never happens, but, Iíve never heard know, heard of one yet and Iím, my family has been very involved with hunting for years


6.238.  EM: Do you feel itís a vi, I donít want to get too into the hunting debate, but now you mention, it was more asking why


6.239.  CF: Yeah, but Iíve been going, sorry


6.240.  EM: Well, well, well


6.241.  CF: Your, but, if, if


6.242.  EM: I will ask you this


6.243.  CF: Youíre, youíre destroying, youíre destroying the countryside, the way we are in the countryside, youíre destroy, destroying the rural, rural, this village, weíve had, one, two, three, four, five, family farms, oneís turned into a riding stables and the other four are all selling up this year, itís destroying, itís changing the whole of the rural, because of the situation in farming, itís changing the whole of the rural, thereís just, everything coming together, it and, people in the countryside are saying hang on, weíve had enough of you changing, destroying the countryside as we know it, they


6.244.  EM: But


6.245.  CF: But when, when you were saying about the supermarkets, nobody dreamt then, that they would have such an effect on the rural economy, not because of the shops or anything like that, but with the farming, and everything else to do with it


6.246.  EM: But the interesting thing to me, as an observer of, of this sort of, this sort of, is that, a lot of green organisations, like say Friends of the Earth, and organisations like that, did realise, and they would have taken to the streets, not, not just when supermarkets were being, built but also, roads being built through the kind of classic now, you know like Newbury and Twyford Down and Sailsbury Hill and all then, and as, as an observer of these things, I thing well why actually do the same people who did, who turned out for Liberty and Livelihood March not turn out when supermarkets were being out, and not turn out at these road protests, which to me, that is all saving the countryside


6.247.  CF: Iím afraid that all comes down to the, the name that you mentioned, Greenpeace


6.248.  EM: Friends of the Earth


6.249.  CF: Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, theyíve, theyíve got a lot of people, consider them, fruit cakes, yeah that, thatís the way people view them, Iím not saying I do but, thatís the way they are viewed by a lot of people, and, Iím, I think, you know I think itís great that theyíre, they take up some of the causes they do, umm, I donít agree with the things they do again, because I, there again, a lot of the things they do are against the law, theyíre breaking the law, and I, I donít agree with that, I think, you got a lot of the things on these road and that, you did get a, a very extreme person going there, whereas the Liberty and Livelihood was, an organised, very ordinary people, just going and marching, not camping on a place for days on end, itís a very different type of thing, probably if youíd had a better organisation organising it, with regard to the supermarkets, you might have got the marches, but it comes down to whoís organising it


6.250.  EM: So you thing that is the reason, itís not, that the issue doesnít deserve merit


6.251.  CF: No, there was nothing


6.252.  EM: Itís just as much an issue for the countryside


6.253.  CF: Itís the people who, itís the people who are, umm, making it


6.254.  EM: So how did the Liberty and Livelihoods, kind of people, try to stop certain roads being built, and try to stop certain supermarkets being built, youíd have been behind them, it was more the scene wasnít


6.255.  CF: The way it was done, you know, umm


6.256.  EM: But you agree that the issues are as valid, do you, you feel that was valid


6.257.  CF: I think so, yeah, I, I, Iím, Iím, I donít like seeing parts of the countryside, especially the Newbury Bypass I think, it could have been done better, the, the, the way, where it was put in, you know, umm, where it went through, we used to live just the other side of Newbury, before we moved down it for a few years before we moved down here so, it is, you know, I, I agree, I donít think they could, choose the best route, but, there comes to a limit, you, you can stand up, and you can have a meeting and a demonstration, but Iím afraid, I wonít go and camp out, and hang myself, barricade myself in a tree, no, I donít do that sort of thing


6.258.  EM: But


6.259.  CF: And thatís what most of the people on this Liberty and Livelihood wonít, they feel strongly enough about it, and theyíll go out have, have their heard, their voice heard, but there, a lot of people were put off by these road demonstrations by the extremists who got involved, Iím not saying theyíre all, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace and people like that, but there were a lot of, I canít, I forget that lad who used to


6.260.  EM: Swampy


6.261.  CF: Swampy, you know, and people think, used to think, what a fruit cake, ha, you know, I, I, I think he, he believes, fervently believes in it and heíd do whatever he wanted to, to support it, to stop it, fine, but the majority of people wonít go that way, itís, itís only a few whoíll do that sort of thing, you heard about what they were doing, you think, no I donít want to get involved with that, and, and thatís the difference


6.262.  EM: So just, I, I donít want to go too much into this


6.263.  CF: No


6.264.  EM: Iíve got several other things I want to ask you, but so, so say there was a, a motorway being built at the bottom of your farm, letís just say


6.265.  CF: Well, the M4 nearly did go, one of the routes was through the bottom of the farm, ha


6.266.  EM: Would you have protested against that, or would you have been quite, reticent


6.267.  CF: Something like the motorway, theyíve got to go somewhere, and you got to take the best is, whichever the best route to go, err, I donít think they took the best route for Newbury, I think that it could, things could have been done differently, a different route, that wouldnít have taken it through such an area, you know that, common is, something special and thatís the sort of thing, we can all, we can coupe with a little bit of our, you know, itís, itís a road, it doesnít take up thousands of acres, hundreds of acres our of your farm, you might loose, ten or twenty acres, maybe, but itís not going to take thousand of acres, out of farm, you can live with that, but I, you know, if it was, the best route, then I wouldnít have gone out demonstrating against it, no


6.268.  EM: Would you not


6.269.  CF: Even though it was coming though you, it had, that M4 had to go somewhere


6.270.  EM: Okay, okay, let, letís move on, my last sort of question about contact is, given that you sometimes work a fifteen hour day, I, I just find it unbelievable how you fit in, reading up about latest technology


6.271.  CF: Well you usually read that while having your lunch or your breakfast, ha, or supper


6.272.  EM: And, and, doing all your paper work, you know, the, the


6.273.  CF: Well, we did umm, I used to do all the, main paperwork, but all the accounts paperwork was done by, we had a secretary come in to do it here, which I havenít got down there so Iíve got to it all myself now, which will be fun, ha


6.274.  EM: And also going back to the sort of public image of, of farming, when you said, you know, people, you feel like a leaper, what do you feel could be done, to make people understand farmers better


6.275.  CF: We are portrayed, particularly by the Government, as being um, subsidies junkies, weíre not, I donít know of a farmer in the country who would happily live the way they are with subsidies and set-a-side being paid for se-a-side in the arable subsidies and that, theyíd much rather being growing crops and being paid a, a realistic money price for the crops, weíd all rather do that, but, weíve got costs, either, we get subsidised to help cover the costs, by the EEC or whoever, or the price of food has to go up, you canít, all, all the American farmers and that are heavily subsidised, we all know that, you know thatís a, everybody knows that, so, how, weíre so, we got a, work, work on a world market, just take my cows, I feed them on maize, in this country, we get thirty percent or less of the IACS payment on maize, all the other dairy farmers in the EEC are getting a hundred percent of the, so weíre getting, weíre getting seventy percent less on our payments, every other farmer in the EEC is getting, but thatís down to this Government, the British Government decided, have decided that, not the EEC, thatís down to the British Government, now, am I working on a, on a equal market, just with the EEC, let alone the rest of the world, no, you know, weíre, weíve got animal welfare in this country we have to abide by, no other body, nobody else has got anything like weíve got anything, in the world, are we working on the same playing field, no, weíre not, all we want to do, is if they want us to have these special umm, welfare standards and that, then we have to be subsidised for the amount of money it costs us, you know, anybody can chuck good knows how many cattle in a shed and tether pigs up and, willy-nilly, you know, but when you start putting up bigger sheds so that they have more room, freedom and stuff like that, it costs money, it costs you more to produce the food, so, you have to, if you the, if you want the food, either you have to subsidise us, or let us get a realistic price of what itís costing, now the Government doesnít want the food price to go up, because that affects inflation, so what other choice have they got, they have to give us, subsidies to, keep the food coming on the table


6.276.  EM: Is that, your


6.277.  CF: At the price they want it


6.278.  EM: What youíve answered is very interesting but itís about survival, the question was about the image, itís, so


6.279.  CF: Yes, but, there, I said the image is that where, where umm


6.280.  EM: The image is subsidy junkies


6.281.  CF: Weíre subsidy junkies, just, just grabbing off the state, we donít want to be like that, I donít want to be like that, you know, I want to be farming my land, producing a quality product that people are going, paying me a realistic price for, thatís what Iíd love to do


6.282.  EM: And how much local, err like in the immediate vicinity where, where you live, how much understanding is there, do you think of, of your


6.283.  CF: Of farming, very little, even people in the village I think who have move, the people who have been heres quite a while understand what the situation involve, but people who, thereís a lot of people who have moved out into the countryside recently, and they have no perception of the reality of, the economics of farming, and the way we look after the cows and animals and that, they see a bit on television, they think all farms are like that


6.284.  EM: Are they curious, do they ask you


6.285.  CF: Yes and thatís why, thatís one of the things, big things I do when I go showing, we do showing and Iíll talk to anybody about the cows, what we do, how we look after them, they can stroke any of my cows, Iíve got no problems with that, and I think itís very important that, itís one of the important ways of going and talking to the public and letting them what itís all about


6.286.  EM: I mean


6.287.  CF: Those cows that we take to the show are no different, treated no different to anything else on the farms, itís not just my cows out, thereís hundreds of cows at these shows, all the cows at those shows, all treated the same, they not, they not put in a little palace just the ones that we take


6.288.  EM: But although, although you say that, some public perception might be subside junkie, I donít think anyone doesnít a farmer, is a hard worker, do you think that


6.289.  CF: Well, I think a lot of people think we just umm, town people think we just farmers, driving round in Discoverys and go shooting or fishing all day, or hunting, thatís not reality, ha, ha, but that is a perception that a lot of people have of us in towns, is that how, what farmers do, you know, they swan around in a big Range Rover, or, or Discovery paying people a, a pittance to do their work for them at home while they swan around, that, it might have done a hundred years ago but it doesnít work these days, those sort of farmers are the ones that are going out of business cause they canít afford to pay the people to produce, out of, out of their proceeds, youíve got to get your hands dirty and get down there


6.290.  EM: Do you listen to the Archers


6.291.  CF: No, ha


6.292.  EM: Have you ever


6.293.  CF: Err yes, but, probably not in the last thirty years, ha, ha


6.294.  EM: Does your father listen to it


6.295.  CF: No, nobody here does


6.296.  EM: Did they, do you, whatís itís reputation amongst farmers you know, is it that itís


6.297.  CF: Well itís not really any, anything, I, I donít, from, from what Iíve heard and seen and read, itís really not, itís rather like Emmerdale Farm of the tele, start off with, that was about Emmerdale Farm, now you donít hear about anything about farming, itís just about the village, and thatís whatís happening throughout, the village is, the farms are disappearing out of the villages, youíre getting these big estates, the houses are being sold off, the buildings are being knocked down and houses built where the buildings are and, big, big farms from away are taking over the land and, I think that just about sums up the television programmes as well, they, they actually depict, depicts the way farming has gone on, itís, itís destroyed, finished it, ha, ha


6.298.  EM: Okay, letís move on to umm, yeah, okay, letís move onto the growing and rearing


6.299.  CF: Yup


6.300.  EM: How do you decide what to grow, or what to rear I mean


6.301.  CF: What to rear, we rear is simple, we rear every, we put every animal on the farm to a Holstein bull when we rear every heifer calf, thatís simple, we rear the odd bull calf if we think the pedigrees good enough to sell it as a breeding bull, umm, grow, so thatís fairly simple, you know, you just decide what you keep and what you sell on, at a later date, you know, you sell to other dairy farmers, to produce milk or whatever, or start a family and umm, you, you know, you has the, you want to keep your keep, you know, nun, no, none of, we do no beef, nothing goes for beef or anything, so we have no decisions on that score, umm, growing, itís always been a case of here, what we need, we grow what we need to feed the cows, but now weíve taken this bigger unit with a lot of arable on, weíve got to look much more, at what, what will cover the costs


6.302.  EM: So how will you find


6.303.  CF: And I use it, I use that, very carefully, because, you know, you donít look at what you can make a profit on, youíre looking what will cover the costs


6.304.  EM: No even, itís that modest, your expectation


6.305.  CF: Yeah, nobodyís, nobodyís expecting to make a profit this year on arable farming, itís just a case of what you can cover your costs with


6.306.  EM So on this farm you were growing just


6.307.  CF: Grass and maize for the cows


6.308.  EM: It was all, it was all for the cows, nothing was going to human consumption that you were


6.309.  CF: No, apart from the milk


6.310.  EM: Yeah, umm, but none of your arable was being sold, it was all self sufficient as it were


6.311.  CF: No, it was all, it, it was just, just for the farm, yup


6.312.  EM: And then how are you goína, this new venture now, learn more about, where will you kind of, look to learn and get advice for new arable ventures


6.313.  CF: Umm, various places really, be, we have a agent, umm, advising us from Orban Farming Limited, which is, used to be Anderson, one of the biggest ones in the country, we have an agronomist who have, advises us on what sprays to use when, umm


6.314.  EM: Do you have to pay for all of this advice


6.315.  CF: Of course, yes, whatís free


6.316.  EM: Quite, quite a lot


6.317.  CF: I havenít had the bill yet, ha, ha, all depends how much you use him I suppose, it, vary, greatly, if, if they come down once a week then it costs once more, a lot more if they come down twice a year, same as anything, the more you use it, err, itís like a car, the more you use a car, the more, the more it cost you, so itís, no different to anything else really, umm, weíve got a very good tractor driver whoís been working the farm for twenty six years, he, he advises us, you know, no, that wonít grow in that field, you can grow this there, and things like that, and, but the biggest one of all, is, what will cover the costs, that is what cov, covers it, you sit down at the table and say, barley, no, this that, no


6.318.  EM: And do you get any week, do you get Farmers Weekly or any other


6.319.  CF: Oh yes, we have Farmers Weekly


6.320.  EM: And you really would read that, each week would you


6.321.  CF: I look at it, ha, ha


6.322.  EM: Look at it, right


6.323.  CF: You glance through and you think, you, you, you see what, you know, like, weíve got arable and dairy so you donít bother to read anything about beef or pigs or sheep, you know, you read what pertinent to your business


6.324.  EM: How much, I mean just, just to sort of set the theme, when you move to Sussex, how much advice will you be willing to ask of local farmers is it, is there a kind of pride in, in the farming world


6.325.  CF: Not with me


6.326.  EM: Does, does


6.327.  CF: Not with me, I canít answer for anybody else, but Iím, Iím never too ashamed to ask anybodyís advice, you know, the day, I think I know it all and stop asking is the day I pack up farming cause Iíve had it, itís as simple as that, ha, ha


6.328.  EM: Has you come across people who donít want to err, is it a sort of trait in farming that


6.329.  CF: I think there are a lot of older ones, I think the more modern farmer, the, my generation and my sonís generation, are much happier, using advises and that, whereas certain my fathers generation is, you know, if you ask anyone, you werenít, you werenít capable of doing it, Iím not saying all of them are like that, but it was much more prevalent in that generation, I think you know, itís a changing with the times, you know, when you can go out there, and just plod along and make a living, you didnít worry, but now, youíve got to do everything you can, just to try and cover youíre, keep youíre costs down to a minimum, you know, maybe not even covering, itís just, all, with a lot of arable farmers are looking at it the way, you can make as least loss as possible, not a profit or cove the costs itís just how you can keep your losses down


6.330.  EM: And with your maize and your grass, where would you get those seeds from


6.331.  CF: Umm, agricultural merchants, you just ring up and order them, you see what you want, see what there is about, see what might grow, you know, they, they do these trials and that and you just read and, like that, you know you, if thereís anything on maize, if youíre looking at maize then you look at, any research results on maize and see what happens, see what takes and, see whatís growing well, where, and then you decide what you want


6.332.  EM: And would you say seed ever


6.333.  CF: No


6.334.  EM: And how concerned would you be about whether the seeds organic or not


6.335.  CF: Well, weíre not organic, umm, there are certain things to do with organic that I donít like, umm, they tend to bend the rules, to suit themselves, when it suits them, umm, I donít like that


6.336.  EM: What kind of bending of the rules


6.337.  CF: Well, if youíre short of grub for your cows, you can buy a field of grass from your neighbour whoís not organic and that can go, that can go in your clam as, and itís registered as organic conversion, Iím sorry thatís not right, if youíre organic, youíre organic, if you canít grow the food, you cut your cows down, no, and that, thatís, if I do something, I do it properly, and thatís why I wonít go into it, I didnít go into it, umm, Iíve got a friend, school, I was at school with, I was talking to him, must be a couple of years ago now, and he asked me if I was gone, going organic, and I said no I donít agree with it and said, and he asked me why, and I said well take milk for instance, our milk has to be under a hundred and fifty cell count, to get into the top band


6.338.  EM: A hundred and fifty


6.339.  CF: Cell count, which is the amount of white cell in the milk, they can, theyís, and test it, umm, organic, only has to be under four hundred, and he asked me, what does that mean, I said, basically, put in a nutshell, thatís shelf life, how long it will keep, he says, well funny you should say that, thatís one thing weíve noticed since weíve been buying organic milk, it doesnít last anywhere as long, I said, there you go, and thatís why I donít like, I donít agree with it, I


6.340.  EM: Can you explain the cell count


6.341.  CF: Cell count is, that they count, that they, they, theyíve got some kind of test, they count the amount of umm, white cells, in, in the milk, I donít know how they do it, they can do it, you know, Iím afraid Iím not up on the technical side of it


6.342.  EM: And


6.343.  CF: We get one back for, we get it tested four times a week, a month, a sample is taken every day, form the


6.344.  EM: You have to take the sample do you


6.345.  CF: No the bulk tanker takes it and they take it away and they keep it every day, so if thereís any problem with a load of milk, they can see, find out which farm itís come from, err, four time, four or five times a month, itís sent away for analysis, and we get butter fat content, protein, cell count and bacter-scan Which is the number of bacteria in it, which has to be under forty I think it is, to be in the top band for that, weíre in the top band for all of it, but as it is, but, I feel if you only have to be under four hundred, you donít bother to be such a good family, donít, you donít worry if itís three hundred and fifty because youíre still getting paid your full wack, why go to the expense of doing it, Iíd rather, I prefer to go down the line, I use, been a very heavy user of homeopathy and drug free medicines, because I feel, to produce milk from drug free cows is far more beneficial to the human, than, doing it from organic grass, and thatís the way Iíve gone down, the route Iíve gone down, umm


6.346.  EM: So would you like a label that


6.347.  CF: No, I just feel that I, I, itís for my, I think the cows are healthier for it, you know, we lot of acupuncture and stuff like that and I think itís much better to with, I donít know how much people know about homeopathy but, basically it stimulates the body to heal itself from inside, itís, itís very simplified that is, but thatís it in a nutshell, and I feel itís much better to do, get a cow to do that, than it is to try and treat it with drugs


6.348.  EM: What would your fathers generation think about that


6.349.  CF: Fatherís all in favour of it, he, he, he


6.350.  EM: Thatís not seen as crackpot


6.351.  CF: It was, originally


6.352.  EM: Would you have


6.353.  CF: He thought I was mad when I started on, on with it, but he realises, you know, we used it in, what happened was, I was cured of meningitis, hepatitis and there was something else I was cured of, I canít remember what it was now, with hom, homeopathy, and I thought, mine personally, and I thought, if it works on me, why wonít, why wonít it work on the cows, and all this, that it, it works with pets because of the bond, Iím sorry, my cows donít know Iím putting five mil of a mixture in their water tank, ha, ha, I love my cows, but it isnít that close a bond, and it works, and I think itís much better, to do that and have it going in through, with like the water or something, than it is sticking needles in their backside and shooting antibiotics, the body full of antibiotics, I know I feel lousy when Iím on antibiotics, why the cow feel any better


6.354.  EM: So, but you still wouldnít go for a brand that was kind of drugs free rather than pesticide free brand in some way


6.355.  CF: No, no, no, no, Iím, cause thereís labelling like that, you, you donít get any that umm


6.356.  EM: What was the quota, was that, yours was a hundred and fifty cells


6.357.  CF: As a cell count, umm, on our milk buyer, they vary from milk buyer to milk buyer, but itís, you have to, umm, express dairyís, was, a hundred, I think Iím right in saying, is a hundred and eighty, Southern Milkís a hundred and fifty,


6.358.  EM: Your have to be


6.359.  CF: You have to be under, lower than that


6.360.  EM: And the, cell ohh, and the organic milk you have to be


6.361.  EM: Under four hundred


6.362.  CF: Under four hundred


6.363.  EM: So, right


6.364.  CF: So itís three times as dirty if you like


6.365.  [mobile phone rings]


6.366.  EM: Oh sorry about that, thatís mind, again


6.367.  EM: Okay weíve had an interruption there, but Iím gonna, Iím gonna pick up in one of my questions is do you feel there is a crisis of farming in the UK, which of course weíve move than covered, umm, but just out of interest, how much do you feel there is a crisis in the rest of the world to do with, in connection with farming


6.368.  CF: I think there is, there is a lot, across a lot of the world because everybody wants cheap food, itís just that a lot of the Governments, most of the Governments, are, backing their farmers, because the majority of Governments, take France and America, has got vast parts of rural population, that unless they keep them on side, they arenít going to get back in next time, there is, this Governmentís in, and hasnít got a single rural MP, thatís the difference, France, if they donít look after the farmers, they donít get back into power, cause the farmers have a tremendous amount of the, percentage of the vote, weíre so into, the, the rural vote in this country is very insignificant as far as getting the MPs into their seats, so why should the Government care about us, all the Government care, seems to care about is getting back into power, and if we canít help them get back into power they wonít care about us, thatís the way I view it, Iím not saying thatís the way it is, but thatís sure as hell the way it seems


6.369.  EM: And what do you, I mean weíve, weíve discussed it in various ways, but what do you think is the root cause of the crisis, the cheap food


6.370.  CF: Cheap food


6.371.  EM: Or the MPs being out of touch


6.372.  CF: The crisis is deeper in this country because, the Government doesnít want to back farmers, but in all the other countries, the Governments are backing the farmers, you know


6.373.  EM: And the crisis is somewhat


6.374.  CF: Isnít quite as bad as it is in this country, I donít think, but I must admit, you know, without going and speaking to everybody and seeing there accounts, how can you tell, you know, you can, you can only see what you, what you read and what you hear, err, I think it probably is deeper in this country than anywhere else, lot of it because of our overheads, because of the welfare issues we have on the livestock side of things, but err, also because they just want to get away from backing farmers, as far as I can see the UK Government is the only one that wants to scrap quotas in the Agricultural Policy. I havenít, I havenít heard much coming from any other countries in the EEC


6.375.  EM: And do you think exporting is the answer


6.376.  CF: You can only export, if you can afford to, umm, if youíre producing enough to export, and I donít think weíre, weíre going be, you know, I was, I was at a meeting last week, and they, the arable group, the corn group that it was, they have never exported anything through their on, on-dock storage last year, there just was no, no, I think a lot of that comes down to the way British produce is perceived around the world, it comes down to, the way itís marketed around the world, unfortunately itís marketed by big companies, and I would say, that is probably the biggest problem we have, exporting, the Gov, Government doesnít worry about backing us for exporting, they donít, they certainly donít want live exporting of animals, but, weíve probably as good genetic base, what I know about, the Holsteins as there is, probably, anywhere, anywhere else in the world, weíre getting some wonderful bulls coming through, going out in the world, we should be looking at exporting them, some of the produce and un, until they push to get the exportís bans and that lifted, going back to BSE days, thereís far more BSE going on in the Continent than there is in this country now, why arenít they exporting to our export, out, because they donít give a dam about farming, theyíre more worried about the person in a town doesnít want umm, animals exported


6.377.  EM: And would you ever see a, see a world in Britain letís say, where there isnít the sort of great food swap of, exports going over, and then imports going over and it being almost


6.378.  CF: You can never do that, because we canít grow things in this country that, the consumer wants, we canít grow, some of the exotic fruits, bananas, and


6.379.  EM: Rice


6.380.  CF: That, and rice and that, economically in this country, it could be grown but youíd have to pump aa the paddy fields and things like that


6.381.  EM: But on the, on the food stuffs, that we can grow, and we do import


6.382.  CF: Umm


6.383.  EM: Would you like to ever see a day when we just go utterly local and


6.384.  CF: No, I, I donít think that will ever happen because itís a global market now a days, you know, itís that same everywhere across, I donít see thatíll ever happen again, I think, you, it will happen to a certain extent because weíre youíve got people doing farm shops and that, a number, a certain percentage of people will go there because they want to, get there, see where itís been grown and know itís been grown locally and that, but the majority of people donít give a monkeyís, all theyíre worried about is how much they, the cheapest they can get it and thatís where the global side comes in


6.385.  EM: And what do you think about joining the Euro


6.386.  CF: Iím against it, but not, not on economic terms or anything, just on principle, ha, ha


6.387.  EM: Do you think it will be good for farming


6.388.  CF: Well, according to what everybody says it should be, because theyíre all blaming the Euro rate for why are milk prices are down, what Iíd like to err, Iíd love to see is what happens if we join the Euro, is our milk price going to go up, are the prices going to go up, thatís, that, thatís the only way youíll be able to tell as far as, the umm, I donít know whether itíll be better or not, Iím, for a personal reason, I donít thing we need it, I, itís worked fine, perfectly well for hundreds of years, why is it sudden we have to join the united states of Europe


6.389.  EM: And what do you feel


6.390.  CF: mostly itís pushed by the Germans, and we all know the Germans have been trying to take over Europe for years, ha, ha


6.391.  EM: What do you think about the recommendation of the food and farming commission to switch from subsidising production to environmental subsidies


6.392.  CF: Totally wrong, I donít think you can just swap it, you can put, you can encourage it, but thereís vast areas of the country that wouldnít be able to get environmental grants, and, I donít, I, I cert, it comes back to the stage, is, why are you giving subsidies to keep the food price down, whatís, the environment grants how thatís gonna err, help the farmer growing his food,  not at all, all itís doing is giving the green, green image to the Government, itís nothing to do, I donít think itís anything to do with, that itís, itís going to be better for the environment this that and the other, itís just, you know, it will be better for the farmers who are doing it, I think there should be a capping for how much you could have, if a farm, if Charlie can own or farm fourteen thousand acres, or twenty thousand acres, he doesnít need that much payment on all of it, but the guy, the little family farm, whoís trying to make a living and keep the farm going, he should have a little bit more, to try and keep the farms going instead of all going into these, cause I, I, I know, heís, heís not even British, heís come over locally here, heís come over from abroad, heís bought I think itís about ten, twelve thousand acres, and at one stage he was getting about three quarters of a million pound a year IACS cheque, thatís not right


6.393.  EM: What does IACS stand for


6.394.  CF: Umm, Integrated Ag, Agricultural, you know the, umm


6.395.  EM: Farm management, no


6.396.  CF: No, the, Integrated Agricultural Commission Subsidy thing


6.397.  EM: Oh yeah, IACS


6.398.  CF: Yeah, IACS, umm, he was getting a cheque for three quarters of a million, one guy doesnít need that to survive, if he can afford to buy all these, they reckon that these IACS cheques, every two years he bought a new farm with his IACS cheques, itís, heís a businessman, he, heís made his money out of, he bought all the farms as many outside business, and itís just lining his pocket even more, and, and to me thatís wrong, itís the farmers who should be getting it, the guys who are farm, if heís got, making his money and itís, heís using it as a tax dodge, which most of these business people are, because of ag, the agricultural, to try and help farmers pass it on to their sons, theyíre using it as a tax loop-hole, thatís wrong, but farmers who, it should, that should only be, if, if, a certain percentage of your farm, Iím not saying it has to be a hundred percent because I take, I took another job off the farm, and my son and I have been agents in this area for semen company selling semen to farm, other dairy farmers, to try and get a little bit more money coming in, so you know, Iím not totally, you could say that I was, itís very little, itís enough to put a bit of bread on the table, itís umm, Iím not totally getting all my income from it, but, Iíd like to think at three hundred and fifty acres here I was, I would be counted as a, a small farmer try to keep, I, Iím, doing what I have to, have to do to try and keep the family farm going, and it should go more to them and less to these big guys


6.399.  EM: What percentage of your income is now coming from the semen selling


6.400.  CF: Quarter of a per cent, umm itís very little, I, I donít, I donít sell much itís a, itís very much a part-time, I suppose it might bring in about five, six hundred, err five or six hundred quid a year at the most, average, you know, not, not a lot, not even enough to pay the council tax


6.401.  EM: And your income in the thirty years youíve been farming, how, how much has that changed


6.402.  CF: Iím still taking the same, wage now, as when I got married in 1975, I still take the same amount out of the farm each week, as I did then


6.403.  EM: And Iím assuming it doesnít go as far


6.404.  CF: No, Iím just glad that Iíve known, itís now just me and umm, the kids are all sort of off, looking after themselves and itís just me that has to do, otherwise Iíd be stuck if I had a wife and three kids to try and look at, I just, I couldnít do it, thatís why bus, weíre all going out of business, you jst havenít got the money there to do it, you know, most people would be horrid, they think that farmers oh, itís all rubbish but, what some farmers, thereís one guy, he owed the, somebody some  money and he, he gave them a tractor, cause he didnít have anything to pay him with, he didnít even have no money to go and buy any grocers with, so he had to give him a tractor to pay the bill, umm, I donít know who it was but it was the umm, the merchant told me that, that had happened, we were talking about the state of farming one day and he told me, that heíd got, thatíd what happened, itís that bad


6.405.  EM: During umm, Foot and Mouth, do you feel you got sufficient sympathy from your neighbours, did, did you feel very isolated or where a lot of people


6.406.  CF:  They were brilliant


6.407.  EM: Ringing you up and


6.408.  CF: They were brilliant, umm, number of people said if you want anything, just shout, you know, umm, you want any money, the, our accountant went round, you know, okay he didnít charge us anything for it, he does our accounts and that, but he, for all the local farmers, he went round and picked up cheques and cashed them bought them back some cash so they had money if they needed it, or anything like that, umm, people that I know said, anything we can do, just give us a shout and weíll drop it off to you get it and drop it off to you, and they were absolutely wonderful


6.409.  EM: So there is some community spirit


6.410.  CF: Yup, well, Iím not saying they all were, but some of them were, but those, those are ones who probably, to be fair, the accountís, it was in, you could say it was self interest if you were being cynical, knowing Bill I wouldnít say that, heíd, heíd have done it out of the goodness of his heart, heís that sort of guy, a lot of the ones that offered did have farming contacts, like one was a wife his, her husband umm, is an agricultural consultant, you know, and there was one who had a, a couple of goats and a couple of horses and a little holding err on, on the other side of us, you know, so, there were one or two, you know, most of the ones who offered knew what we were going through, understood


6.411.  EM: And how, how much have you seen the wildlife change on your farm in thirty years on this farm


6.412.  CF: Iíll tell you what I saw more change last year when they stopped, the people walking across, it was incredible, the wildlife we had here, last year, it was incredible, compared with what we see in normal years


6.413.  EM: What kind of thing


6.414.  CF: Oh, umm the wildlife out in the fields, umm, we had err, a pair of woodpeckers nest down by the brook, but it was right close to the err, fairly close to the footpath, we have a lot of people go and exercise their dogs and nobody even bought a dog and exercised in the field you know there was nothing down there the down and the wildlife just thrived, the biggest problem we had was the number of foxes as well, god did they have the, there were foxes everywhere, foxes weíve never seen, foxes before, it was umm, they, they thrived last year without hunting


6.415.  EM: Did you feel that was a silver lining for wildlife for, Foot and Mouth


6.416.  CF: It may just real, it makes you realise that this right to roam could devastate wildlife, you know, it d, does worry me on the, from the wildlife, not as a personal thing, you know, this is nothing to do with me, but seeing how it thrived when nobody was around the countryside last year, it does worry me whatíll happen with the right to roam, Iím, it worries me that it will devastate the wild, the wildlife, it will just disturb, not that theyíre going to damage it, but itís just going to be, disturbed so much, theyíre not going to nest, theyíre going to leave their nests, theyíre eggs wonít hatch and youíre just loose the species, that does worry me that


6.417.  EM: What about before Foot and Mouth, did, have you noticed a decline in wildlife


6.418.  CF: Err yes, you, you, you see it, just the same, we used to have flocks of lapwings about the fields, they, theyíre no longer there, certainly the number of sparrows about has dropped, err, and probably starling, we still get a lot of starling round here, but I think not as many, the crowds arenít as big as, black as they used to be, used to come over in huge black crowds


6.419.  EM: And what do you put that down to


6.420.  CF: I donít know because there not actually, those, the, the starlings and sparrows are much more urban type birds, they live around bu, buildings so, I wouldnít have said that was down to the farming practices, the lapwings does worry me cause I donít know quite why that is, nobody else does, as, as far as I know, there are, I know there are researchers looking into that, and I, I think theyíre a beautiful bird


6.421.  EM: Do you associate any decline in wildlife with pesticide use


6.422.  CF: Umm, not around here, because we use very little, weíre very, very, we use very little pesticide, weíre us no, umm, virtually no pesticide, itís all, the only ones we use are to control weeds really on this farm, thatís all weíve ever done here, and err, we donít shoot, we have a hunt come across once or twice a year maybe, depending, maybe more, but err, they donít, you know thatís, they, they just come and go you know, thereís no big disruption to wildlife, weíve had a wonderful amount of wildlife on our farm and itís something I love


6.423.  EM: So it hasnít particularly


6.424.  CF: Not ours because of the way we farm it, and weíre all, most of the farms around, just around us are grass farms, so you havenít got the big arable farms spraying and that on, on the crops so, maybe weíre a little bit of an island here, I donít know, it, it, everybody says itís and island in the old Berks count, hunt country


6.425.  EM: And what do you think about the labelling schemes, like, the Red Tractor, or RSPCAís Animal Friendly mark


6.426.  CF: The Red Tractor, err, the, the, problem is, none of them label where it comes from, all itís saying is itís done under good, good welfare standards, but youíve got to have more than just that, you need more than that at the end of the day, itís got a be, you,  itís the labelling, people need to, want to know where it was produced, they want to know what was produced in this company, not packaged in this company, country, they, they want to know where it was produced and none of this labelling does that, the Red Tractor was originally designed but then it went to court and they said that any count, anybody who matched the, any country that matched the welfare standards could use it, so that doesnít do anything, all it, all that is just it says umm, thereís some standards and that foodís been produced to that standard, not where it comes from


6.427.  EM: And would you like to see labelling that is specific to


6.428.  CF: Yeah


6.429.  EM: Would you like it to be more specific than the country, but you know , the actual county and


6.430.  CF: No country is good enough and, otherwise youíre getting it, hopeless, because umm, like if Iím on the border of two farms how, which, which county, county does the, does the lamb come from, Sussex or Kent, ha, you know, you canít do it like that, but country you can do


6.431.  EM: So in terms of local food, in a, in a, in a supermarket then


6.432.  CF: If itís been and done and labelled as local, then it has to have where itís on it, whereís itís done as local, it should have you know, Drayton or Abingdon or Marcham or wherever, I think that should be on it, so people, itís all comes down to if youíre doing it local, it should be, because if itís local, if thereís nothing, it just says you, packaged in the UK, what does, no, nobody knows thatís, means itís local, look, look at that going back, earlier on, when we had the umm Union Jack over the umm cauliflowers, in the superstore, and seventy percent of them were, from France, people pick it up, assuming that itís local, you pick it up and if itís umm, local you assume itís local, if you pick up with the British flag hanging over it, you assume itís British, since you look at the back of one of the leaves and itís got a little sticker saying produce of France that you realise itís not, umm, the local, if itís got on it where itís produced, if itís advertised as local, it should be said where itís local and it should have the country of, origin, no, you know, you can say packaged in Great Britain, fine, but it should have where it was produced as well, so people can know, cause people, you know, that, itís, itís, itís in the consumers, this is for the consumer, no the farmer, this is for the consumer, thatís the biggest comment I had when I was out with err, the FFA and that, was how, how can we tell whatís British, weíd love to support you but we donít know whatís British


6.433.  EM: How does your milk get to the shops as it were


6.434.  CF: It gets picked up in a ruddy great big tanker, taken to, nearly down to Brighton, converted, err treated and sent up to London, or where ever


6.435.  EM: Is there anyway that that could be more local for you


6.436.  CF: Umm, there are small dairies doing it locally, we did look at umm, selling to a small dairy but it, it had to be very tailored production to fit in with what they could sell, so it made it very difficult


6.437.  EM: And you, do you have any control of the price of that milk


6.438.  CF: None at all, thatís why I went out with the FFA the other year but err, as I say, Iím not a hundred percent au fait with some of the things theyíre doing now, Iím, Iím not that radical, ha, ha


6.439.  EM: So currently, how, who do you feel has the most control over farming, the landowners, politicians, the EU, big companies


6.440.  CF: Big companies


6.441.  EM: Supermarkets


6.442.  CF: Supermarkets and big companies


6.443.  EM: They are, they are in control are they


6.444.  CF: Yeah, you know, all, most of our seed is produced by two or three, or the fertilisers are produced by two or three, most of the feed is produced by tow or three companies, they control everything, the water that our cows drink is a monopoly


6.445.  EM: An would you like to see their control diminished


6.446.  CF: Yeah


6.447.  EM: And how would you envisage that


6.448.  CF: We have to compete, international on a global market, why arenít they, why, how can they get, how can they have the monopolies or very little competition, they just snuff all the opposition out, itís not right


6.449.  EM: So what would be youíre dream scenario of how, it would work


6.450.  CF: I suppose, dream scenario for it to work, would be for, how Iíd like to farm, is to just get paid, a price for my product, so that I can sell it and make enough to make a living, re-invest for the future, youíve got a, youíve got to buy a new tractor every now and then, and a new piece of machinery, I, I donít want ot go out and have, spend millions on it, but youíve got to do it, itís the same as anybody whoís got a car, every now and then you have to go and buy a new car, the old one wears out, youíve got to buy another one, umm, thatís all, thatís all I want, I, I just want know, now if they want to keep the price of food down in the shops, and thereís welfare standards for the animals up on this farm then theyíve got to be prepared to either subsidise us or pay a bit more for the food


6.451.  EM: That comes back to that each time


6.452.  CF: It does, and thatís where it comes back to, if, it, I suppose you could say therefore then itís umm, ultimately then itís at the Government, if they want to keep the price of the food down to the consumer, so the inflation stays down, so there, everybody says arenít they doing a wonderful job, then they canít do that and complain, I had a lovely sticker once on my car, if you complain about farming donít speak with your mouthful, and if you want food, you want it produced locally, you want it produced to welfare standards, then, put your hand, m, hand in your pocket and pay for it, if you donít, then why make us obey those rules, you know, it comes back down to that at the end of the day, you know, weíre just not getting paid enough for what, to cover our costs


6.453.  EM: So a system that would work better than subsidies would just be to be paid more for it, would it


6.454.  CF: Yeah, I, I think, as far as Iím concerned yes, Iíd much have it that way, than, Iíd much rather be selling my product


6.455.  EM: Yup


6.456.  CF: For a fair, for a price that meant I was self-sufficient, than, ever thinking you know, and, that, I, I suppose at the end of the day, if the Governmentís paying subsidies, thatís coming out of the tax payers pocket, so if they werenít paying, spending , paying subsidies they could reduce the amount of tax, which meant, theyíd have the more money in their tax, their pockets to pay for the food, so either you pay it to the farmers for the food through the supermarkets, or you pay it to the taxman and he pays it back as subsidies, whichever way the consumerís are paying for it anyway, whichever way you do it, itís just which way round you do it, and Iíd much rather, see a, the proper price of production reflected in the product than, these innuendos subsidy junkies


6.457.  EM: And whatís your experience of set-a-side been


6.458.  CF: There are people starving in the country and we are being paid to not grow crops, you tell me where the logic in that is, let us grow crops, buy those crops off us, and send it to the starving countries, give it to the far, starving countries, so they can feed their people, whatís the point when people an animals are starving in this world of paying us not to grow anything, it is ludicrous


6.459.  EM: And yet you have opted into it


6.460.  CF: Donít have any choice, you have no choice to opt into it, you have to put ten percent set-a-side in, itís law


6.461.  EM: Since when has that been law


6.462.  CF: Since umm, IACS came in, itís all been part of it, when, weíre, to keep the price of the food down, and to make, so farmers could try and, the, the theory was for farming to survive, you had to put money, you had to put crops into set-a-side to reduce the grain mountain in Europe, and that was the theory of it, but, it comes back again, whatís the point of that, making us put ten per cent and so if I grow seven hundred acres of arable, Iíve got to put, I got seventy, seven hundred acres of arable, Iíve got to grow nothing on seventy acres, whatís the point, if theyíre going to pay us a hundred pound an acre, pay us a hundred pounds an acre, pay, buy have the crop, send it out there, feed those people, I, you know, I, it just does not make sense to me, I think itís totally ludicrous


6.463.  EM: And thatís been since when, when was,  do you think, IACS


6.464.  CF: Oh years, so long as I can remember, every since they bought umm


6.465.  EM: Youíve had to do the ten percent


6.466.  CF: Yeah, ever, ever since theyíre bought this umm, the IACS system in, itís been, itís been there, well it used to be fifteen, I think it was, and they reduced it to ten


6.467.  EM: And that rotates, that land, or is it the same


6.468.  CF: Itís up to you basically, itís the individual farmer, err, I donít, umm, Iím not


6.469.  EM: What fdo you do with yours


6.470.  CF: Were, we tended to use the same bit down here, because we used the wettest bit of the field to set-a-side and put the rest into maize


6.471.  EM: So it is just the same field that gets left


6.472.  CF: Well, bit of a field here, because it was only seven acres, but umm, where we are going to Sussex, where weíve got more, we will be rotating it


6.473.  EM: How much of your time is spent on paperwork, would you say


6.474.  CF: Too much, ha, most evenings I usually get in, about half seven, eight, and I do paper work until about eleven or twelve at night, then go to bed, get up and check the cows, like last night I was calving a cow Ďtil the early hours, had a difficult calving, got to bed, got up this morning, do the dayís work and then normally I would go back and do the paper work in the evening, the paper work or, go, get on the computer to register calves or, get passports for the cattle, through the British Cattle Movement Service


6.475.  EM: What bit of paperwork takes up most of your time would you say


6.476.  CF: Paying the bills, ha, ha, trying to balance the books I should think, I suppose take the most time


6.477.  EM: Itís amazing that you can take the time to talk to me when you consider a working day like that


6.478.  CF: Well, from what you explained, what this is all about, I think itís important, that people in the future, and I presume that this is going, you say it is going on record, I assume itís going to be there forever, that people can look back and hear the farmers side of why theyíve, why things have happened the way they have


6.479.  EM: Well thatís exactly the, thatís exactly the idea


6.480.  CF: And that, thatís why I will always make time for anything like that, I think itís very important that, we talk to the public and the public know whatís going on


6.481.  EM: Okay, Iíve got a few, few more but weíre coming to the end, umm, I asked you, Iíve, Iíve kind of heard your, your version of why not organic, but you also earlier said you were also anti-GM


6.482.  CF: Iím not very keen on, we, for centuries weíve, weíve breed and crossed crops and that, thatís breeding, what I donít like is that theyíre, this GM crops, this is how, I understand it, I might have got the wrong end of the stick, but this is how Iíve understood it, and what Iíve been told by the merchants and that, basically, the wonder, the beauty of it is, you only need to use one spray, to treat the crop, but you have to buy that from the guy who supplied the seed, and that just, worries me there that somebodyís getting more control over what you do and that, and one big company taking more control, and um, I donít see the need for that, weíre always looking for new, you know, breeds, breeding new, we cross our cows, you know, we donít have a bull here, theyíre not married, you know, thatís breeding, it happens with humans all the time breeding, I donít like the idea of manipulating it so you that you donít have to use, you have to use certain sprays and things like that and umm, Iím not, Iím not, Iím not at ease with that


6.483.  EM: So youíre more worried about the control factor than the environmental, potential environmental problems


6.484.  CF: Well I donít, I think a lot, itís umm, itís the words that have stimulated it and ignorance of, people donít understand what it is, you could says that, if you marry somebody because theyíre a great athlete and you want athletic children, are you genetically modifying your kids to what you want them to be, you know


6.485.  EM: Even if


6.486.  CF: And that, that, thatís what, people look at genetic modification as doing that, and I think, all it is, is they trying, a lot of it is theyíve been trying to breed, some of it is purely economic by, on the spray side of it, Iím certain, and theyíre, theyíre just trying to be, breed more, umm, pesticide resistant strains of, and thatís not, I, I, I think the problem is, itís, itís those two words genetic modification, if theyíre called it, they called it umm, resistant strain or something, people wouldnít have the problem


6.487.  EM: Isnít it that this time around, unlike whatís been happening for centuries, that then theyíre cross, theyíre crossing with fish genes and other, itís not just plant genes, theyíre


6.488.  CF: Well, yeah, you know, thatís what Iím saying, Iím, Iím all in favour of breeding, we all breed, for, to improve, but, you know, I, I donít see the need to do, you know, with err, crossing with different things


6.489.  EM: And sometimes


6.490.  CF: You know, well, err, there again, you see, I, I, I, you know, theyíre trying to control what happens with disease to the plant and that, so you buy their sprays, so do it, I, I, Iím afraid, Iím very cynical of big businesses, all they, there not doing it for the benefit of farming or the environment, theyíre doing it to, to help their pocket, they donít do it for any other reason, thatís all it is, to help their pocket


6.491.  EM: Okay


6.492.  CF: umm, if you werenít farming, what, what else do you thing youíd be doing


6.493.  CF: A lot less work, ha, ha, more time off, ha, ha, umm, god knows, I havenít the foggiest, ha, ha, I really havenít


6.494.  EM: If you could change some aspect of your work as a farmer, what would it be


6.495.  CF: Take the hassle out of it, by being paid enough to make a living without having the headaches, I just want, Iís just love to have a life


6.496.  EM: An you really donít think you have that any more


6.497.  CF: I feel we exist at the moment, economically, and work wise, we, cause, weíre all working with less people on the farms because the economic situation, we canít pay Ďem so therefore weíre having to do more work, each, each personís having to put more hours in and more work, you just, thereís just no life anymore, you know it worries about my son, he doesnít seem to have the life Iíd liked him to have, certainly that I had when I was his age, just, heís just, so, he has to put in so many hours, he doesnít, cause, cause weíve had to get bigger, weíve got more cows, you know, thereís just more work, more hours involved


6.498.  EM: Has the kind of social structure of farming and your farm in terms of class and things like that


6.499.  CF: I think weíre second class citizens now, definitely second class citizens, certainly umm, if you look on like an economic stage, weíre definitely second class, maybe even third class I donít know, but umm, I like to think that I can act with dignity but itís not very easy when you canít pay for it, ha, ha


6.500.  EM: What advice would give to someone whoís starting out today, in farming


6.501.  CF: To think twice, and then think again, if you think you can, if you do your sums right, and you can make it pay, go for it, but look very, very carefully


6.502.  EM: And do you see yourself as a custodian of the land


6.503.  CF: I suppose so yes, I donít, I donít know, I never, never think about it like that, umm, I want my farm to be a haven for wildlife, a place where I, theyíve grown up and I want the place for my kids to, my grandchildren to be able to grow up and be healthy and enjoy themselves, I want, people to be able to come out and look over the gate and say, god thereís some nice cow, those cows look well donít they, they look nice, theyíre happy, you know, umm, thatís what, that, thatís it in a nutshell I suppose


6.504.  EM: I mean from what youíve said to me, it does seem that you do care deeply that you know, you have minimised pesticide use and


6.505.  CF: Yeah, I care about the land, I, Iíve


6.506.  EM: You feel responsible, if thatís not a custodian


6.507.  CF:  Well, I donít know, what, I, I, Iíve never thought of myself as cust, custodian of the countryside, I suppose I am yes, I, I care deeply about the count, countryside, I know it has to change, but umm, these people who are, some of the things theyíre putting through, they donít what goes on in the countryside, how much we rely on hunting and that for the countryside, especially on the social side of things, there is, that is the most social thing in the countryside is the hunting, and the hunt balls and dinners and things like that, it is sociable, because you go there and enjoy yourself, if you go to a farming do, you come, some silly bugger comes along and tells you, oh, youíre not going to get this year, itís going to be a disaster, youíve got to watch out, weíre not going to make any money next year, that, thatís depressing, ha, but if you go to hunt, to something like a hunt do, or something like that, you can kick your heels up and enjoy yourself, very important, youíve got to get out and, relieve the monopoly


6.508.  EM: Well, Iíve come to the end of, of my questions, I donít know if there anything that you feel that, that youíd like to add


6.509.  CF: I donít know, I, I hope that there are family farms going in the future, I have my doubts, the way it is at the moment, I think no way, there are less and less youngsters going into farming, were does that leave the future, I think the average farmer is, fifty seven or something like that, doesnít that all go very well for the future does it, where, you know, whatís going to happen in the future, are we just going to have these conglomerates who donít give a dam about the, countryside, just, more, plough through with twenty four foot combines, you know, if anything, if this, if thereís wildlife in the way, tough, donít want that, you know, I love seeing foxes about, I know some people might think thatís a contradiction of terms but, itís part of the countryside, the hunting itís, we had the hunt here one day, they say theyíre found, the foxes are stressed, we were stood outside the back of the building, the hunted fox, ran across the back of the buildings, literally fifteen yards from me, had a look round, went down to the bottom of the field, sat down, scratched itís ear, had a look round, and then ran off across the field at a gentler canter, if thatís stress give me that any day, ha, ha, itís a dam sight easier than farming, ha, ha, ha


6.510.  EM: Thank you very much Chris Freeman for that very, kind of you to me so much time and answering all those questions


6.511.  CF: Pleasure, anytime


6.512.  EM: Okay, Iíll just give the date, thatís the end of the interview and the date is 6 December 2002

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