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Interview with Christopher Lewis, farmer




Interview date: 14 January 2003

Interview location: Glebe Farm, Priors Lane, Hinton Waldrist, Oxfordshire. SN7 8RX.

Interviewee: Christopher Lewis

Interviewer: Eka Morgan

Transcript key: EM: Interviewer Eka Morgan; CL: Christopher Lewis




8.0.           EM: This is Eka Morgan interviewing Christopher Lewis at Glebe Farm in Hinton Waldrist on the 14 of January 2003, Iím going to begin Christopher by asking you actually how you got into farming


8.1.           CL: I got into farming because, umm, as, as, as a callow youth umm, I made up my mind very early on two things, one was that umm, Iíd no intention of working for anybody else, umm, by that I mean nobody would ever employee me, err, and the second thing, that I could not stand city life, I played soldiers for a couple of years in London and decided there and then that err the sooner I got out of London the better both for London and for me, umm, it, that left pretty little, limited number of choices, umm, not being an academic, err, and farming seemed to be, possibly the only way, umm, as a rider to that, I had a step father who was, err, a medical man and one of his umm, patients was umm, a man called Harold Macmillan who was Prime Minister at the time and I meet him in the err, waiting room, and he said what are you going to do with yourself young man, and I said, I hope to farm Sir, and he said, excellent, a very good way of chiselling and getting money away, out of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, here endíeth that interview, err, I always remember that, umm, I then went to Cirencester for umm , a couple of years, where umm, sadly I didnít concentrate very hard and learnt very little, umm, whilst there I was fortunate enough to, get a tenancy of a farm here in Oxfordshire, umm, which is the other side of the road, which I, drove you past, umm, and umm, shortly after that, I was umm, lucky enough to, umm, that this farm here which is four hundred acres came onto the market, having absolutely no capital what so ever I managed to rake round and persuade people to guarantee and err, ma, err, in order to put the deposit down, and err, we mortgaged it and went from there, thatís how I basically got into it


8.2.           EM: Great, and to someone whoís never seen your farm, could you give a rough description of your farm


8.3.           CL: Umm, weíre fortunate in, in, many ways of having two types of land, one is very light land on top, which, umm, could be termed blowing sand umm, and it then runs to the river Thames which weíve got a mile and a half of Thames frontage, err, which is, umm, much heavier land, liable to flooding and umm, has completely different problems to that land up the top


8.4.           EM: Is it flooded at the moment in fact


8.5.           CL: A lot of is been very flooded for the last fortnight, yes


8.6.           EM: So what do you tend


8.7.           CL: Living on top of the hill doesnít affect us, but, but, err, we had to get, umm, a flock of sheep off, in a great hurry umm, between Christmas and umm, New Year


8.8.           EM: Do you tend not, you donít get anything on that land itís all for grazing is it, or


8.9.           CL: Err, weíll come onto that, we have grown on, a, l, l, lot of it has been grown, in, in crops, and the majority of it is in crops, but there are some areas which have constantly failed, and, we have been persuaded by, umm, our lords and masters and, DEFRA, or the Ministry of Agriculture, whichever you like, that, they canít support umm, this any longer, umm, as, as flooded arable land, and weíve been persuaded into, umm, and environmentally sensitive area scheme, which means that err, it is heading towards conservation and that is what a lot of it is in or done on, on, on the river now


8.10.       EM: And does, do members of your family help out on the farm


8.11.       CL: I have a step son whoís umm, now in his fourth year, err, and has been here ever since virtually he left, umm, Cirencester umm, having been far more successful there than I was, he actually runs the place now and being very, very old umm, I sit back and not criticise but umm, try to enjoy life, yet still contribute, umm, which I think, I think a great deal, he just thinks that I, cause more trouble than Iím worth, which Iím sure, youíll have to interview him on that one


8.12.       EM: Ha, ha, ha,  so heís the only member of your family at the moment working on the farm


8.13.       CL: Heís the only one whoís here, yes


8.14.       EM: And how many, who else is working on the farm at the moment


8.15.       CL: Err, we have, one stockman and err, two arable, umm, men, umm, what used to be called day men, umm, itís rather a wonderful term, umm, but the stockman is responsible for, just over four hundred cattle which we have, umm, and at this time of the year when there isnít a great deal going on, on the arable farm, err, he can draw, umm, as much help as he needs, umm, for feeding, bedding up, cleaning out, and whatever, err, and Iíve always been a firm believer in umm, mixed farming, mixed as opposed to muddled, umm, this lends itself, as Iím concerned, very well, because the, the river meadows, which do grow very good grass, err, and odd shape fields which donít umm, allow themselves, umm, naturally to be, arable fields are suitable for cattle in quite big mobs or umm, smaller mobs in smaller fields obviously, umm, itís an awkward farm, so umm, that is the way it goes


8.16.       EM: When you were more active on the farm what, could you describe your typical day, what sort of time youíd get up and what kind of chores and tasks youíd have to do, and when youíd actually be able to knock-off


8.17.       CL: Bearing in mind, how the whole thing has changed, labour wise, umm, when I came, there are, this as itís currently umm, setup is, umm, one, two three, four, five, six smaller farms which have been amalgamated into one, and the total labour force that I took over, if Iíd kept them all on, umm, would have been thirteen, umm, now weíre down to three, umm, therefore, one did far more, organisational work in, in, earlier on, than physical work, slowly the ratio altered and oneís found oneís doing more and more, err from an employers point of view, umm, fewer and fewer machines, but bigger and bigger machines, more and more sophisticated machines and, umm, one must remember that a lot of the, people that I took over, in my, what I think, a very short farming life, umm, where bought up as umm, carters and worked with horses, umm, and when I came here, there wasnít one, of the staff that I took on, sorry, there was one, of that lot, that actually had a driving license, umm, and in order to bring Ďem into the twentieth century as opposed to the twenty first century, umm, we had to, go out and do, a mob driving lesson, umm, and see whether the suitability was, was, was such, for people to drive, so it, it, it has, changed from, umm what I call the horse age to the computer age, because the sprayer that you saw out, umm, as we drove in here, this morning, umm, that has got a computer on it, umm, and itís very different to, setting up a computer, umm, before going to work to, for the same man who had, probably had to, put a, collar on a horse before going to work in his youth, umm, so there is a complete revolution has gone on, in, in agriculture


8.18.       EM: What do you feel about, the, the fact of it being, employing thirteen people and now four


8.19.       CL: I think there are two ways of looking at it, one is economically, itís obviously got to be better, err, itís got to be better because the whole think is leaner, fitter and whatever, umm, but that should reflect on the economics of umm, the district, the farm, the community, umm, but sadly that hasnít happened, umm, just about everybody in this village, when I came here, one way or another was, umm, employed here, umm, as you came in, there was the, the, the, the sort of equivalent to the blacksmiths shop, umm, there was the bakery at the top, umm, there was cottages, retired or otherwise of people who worked on the farmers of the village, umm, as I say, Iíve now got three, one of which, who lives umm, eighteen miles away and commutes to work by motor, therefore weíve got village houses, weíre down to, err people that live in the village, err there, there, thereíre, thereíre two that actually involved in agriculture apart from the small market garden family, who have, three of them, but they employee no outside help, so add those two together, there are five in agriculture in, in a fairly large village, I think, there are now, three hundred and something, umm, adults, that live in this hamlet, of which three, umm, itís, itís, itís less than one percent are employed and I think this is terribly sad umm, the whole thing is changing, the, umm, the British public expects, and I think weíll come onto this in greater detail, the British public expects the country to look lovely, to be kept for it, for them to be able to tramp over it, walk over it, play football on the fields, etc, etc, but theyíre not prepared to put any thing into it, umm, youíve only got to see by driving, anywhere, umm, the filth and squalor on the side of the roads, people come out of towns and dump umm, umm thereís no pride and no respect for, for, for, the countryside as you and I know it, err and this I find this is terribly sad and I canít see where this is going, they get into their cars at between six thirty and seven thirty in the mornings and, they roar off, in their shirt sleeves, err, as white collar workers, where they go, god alone knows, umm, this time of the year they come back after dark, umm, but they, think that, that weekends, as I say, that everything, that, around is theirs and that they can dictate, they being the great British public, can dictate how the countryside should be run and managed, now I think this is the crux of the thing, and I think that Mr Blair and his Government, err, and the EEC and indeed, widening it still further, have, have, have got to get down to umm, umm, really to just thrash out, just what are we looking for, weíve got global warming, umm, weíve got food being transported for, thousands of miles, umm, by air, using enormous quantities of fossil fuel to feed us, yet here, weíre not encouraged to do anything towards self preservation, maintenance or whatever


8.20.       EM: Do you, you, do you have first hand experience of comments made by people who live in the village who are going out to work elsewhere, I mean, where are you getting that idea from, that they are expecting, you to preserve the farm as it should be


8.21.       CL: Umm, one has first hand, umm, experience of this yes, umm, of course one does, if you farm and, and totally, the, the village is, is totally surrounded by agricultural land umm, which, umm, we farm, umm, take an example of this, if, umm, as only recently happened, umm, that we are spreading farm yard manure on, the windward side of the village, umm, complaints have reached me that, umm, this is nauseas and itís unfair and why canít I go and spread it elsewhere, umm, now if this was, umm, a very basic commodity, such as sewage sludge, which I had purchased from, umm, the Thames Water, or the Environment Agency, which itís, itís well known and carefully documented that it is available and I then spread that up to the boundaries of the houses, then I would feel that, that, I was behaving in an underhand way, but umm, people cannot accept that umm, country, umm, animals produce, country smells, umm, not long ago they were complaining that on Sunday we get up and feed our cattle, umm, we do that with a tractor and, and, and a machine behind it, umm why canít we arrange that we feed our, umm, cattle, umm at midday, so that we donít disturb umm, the umm, umm, the people who are having a lie-in on Sunday morning, try pointing out to them, that perhaps the stockman that are feeding, would like to, get their chores done early and then have the Sunday off, they look at you, in absolute amazement, and say well thatís up to you to organise a rota system, umm, try telling somebody who lives next door to, whoís elected to live next door to a motorway or next door to London airport or anything like that, why canít they organise the flights so that they can have their lie-in, and the answer to that is tough, umm, no, because itís countryside, we, umm, are expected to be umm, at the beckon call of umm, all townees, umm, that does that answer that


8.22.       EM: Yes, it very much does, umm, so, youíve mentioned a few changes already, for a start, going form thirteen people, working on the farm to four, umm, could you just, err, detail a little bit more other changes that youíve seen in the forty-two years that youíve worked on the farm


8.23.       CL: I think economically, umm, there, are, are the greatest changes, umm, the frightening thing is, if we get back to the value of land, err, and look at it as a percentage, the return one got from the value of land, that return, in which ever way you look at it, and Iím not going to bore you with figures, because I havenít got them in my head, umm, but the return on capital has gone down and down and down, to such an extent that, at, at, this moment weíre in, what is commonly called, a negative equity, i.e. there is no return on capital invested, what is capital invested, Iím lucky, I bought land, this farm here, which I bought in 1960, umm, I paid the exorbitant price of a hundred pounds an acre for, umm, an old neighbour, from next door village came, who was then age seventy eight, umm, splendid man, and produced a letter, which the local estate agents, had offered umm, this farm for, and during the war, umm, for ten pounds an acre, and he said, I want to shake the hand of a rich man, umm, and I felt that Iíd, you know, really made a fool of my self, umm, today, this land is worth in excess of two thousand pounds an acre, well, I know that, if, if, if I sold this or put it on the market today and in view of the recent, very recent umm, housing crises or fall back in housing prices, or fall back in housing prices, umm, I probably wouldnít sell it, but, if, if, the guide prices given to me by, the land agents, estate agents, in Oxford and, and itís environs, umm, put it at two thousand pounds an acre, well, if you, or your generation came in here, to farm this, at two thousand pounds an acre, umm, youíd be absolutely skint and bankrupt within three months because you couldnít pay the first instalment of the mortgage or anything else, I mean, it would be, just impossible, so oneís got to look at, why have we got this artificial pricing of, umm, agricultural land, and the answer is two fold, one is that there are a lot of people from the Continent who come over and invested, not so much in these parts but in East Anglia, but we have got quite a number of, of, of farmers who come in, because land in this country is cheaper, per se, than anywhere else in Europe, Iím leaving out Eastern Europe, but in, in, in Western Europe, within, umm, the Common Market countries, umm, as it is today, err, the businessman, gets tax relief on land, that he buys, so that is automatically going to put land prices artificially high, if you were a city whiz kid, you could buy a house, and itís land, and youíd get all sort of tax advantages, we have got to compete with those people for the price of land upon which we wish to make a living, so, there is a big question mark in my mind as to where, the value of land ought to be


8.24.       EM: Though I thought, France, France had very cheap prices, people are always selling, buying farms in France for


8.25.       CL: Exactly, a lot of our go ahead young men are going to, to, to France, the tax concessions in this country, despite the fact that weíre in the EC are different, are different, they can get tax advantages, the Germans, the Swedes, the Austrians,  the Belgians, I donít know of many French people who have farms and, and estates in this country, umm, but, because France is very much, is a very big country, and umm, they can buy in, in France, but umm, I can tell you that for a fact, that, that there people, Arabs, a lot of them, have bought big estates, we are competing against them, weíre competing, weíre only seventy six miles from London, weíre competing against the city boys who have had enormous payouts, in the way of huge slush money, to me, slush money, bonuses, theyíre either taxed at forty per cent on this, gift, that theyíve got, or they can roll it into something else, and rolling it into land, and they can buy a house in the country, a farm, and, and land, and they can set them up, call themselves farmers in inverted commas, err, they get VAT concessions, so, Iím not blaming them, umm, but this is actual fact, umm, if, if I know, that if I wish to increase the size of my business and I umm, a farm locally came on the market, I would be competing with that sort of city money, umm, and I, I, I, I mean this is, this is, well documented


8.26.       EM: Okay, Iím going to move on, and ask about you, how you keep in contact with other farmers and what is happening abroad, umm, how, what is your sort of main way of finding out the latest developments in farming, both here in the UK and abroad


8.27.       CL: Umm, I read a lot, I listen a lot, umm, I watch a certain amount umm, of, of, of television documentaries, umm, on factual things, umm


8.28.       EM: What kind of thing do you read in order to be informed


8.29.       CL: umm, there are lots of publications which come out, umm, quite regularly, there are lots, of, of, things put out, umm, of outlooks from umm, business consultants, umm, there are lots of, of documents which come out from, the Royal Agricultural Society of England, umm, journals, etcetera, umm


8.30.       EM: And in your very active days of farming, did you still


8.31.       CL: Iím still terribly active


8.32.       EM: Right now


8.33.       CL: I do spend, even now, yes, I mean, I, I do,  I spend during the, busy months, I have umm, there are in excess of, of three umm, consecutive weeks when I spent in excess of a hundred hours, on a machine, err, per week


8.34.       EM: I was going to ask you in, in your active life, did, how did you find the time to keep up to date and read all these


8.35.       CL:  Err, one, because it, itís cyclical, seasonal, umm, this is, is December, January, umm, there ainít lot going on, err and itís, umm, relatively cold, err, and the older you get, the, the more one blood thins, and I say, Iíve got work to do in the office and I creep in and I read, umm, umm, I donít necessarily come in to read novels, I donít necessarily come into, to read, umm, statistical things on agriculture because either way youíd be umm, driven mad, umm, but one, one does read and there are some, very good, umm, articles appear in, journals, umm, call them trade journals, and


8.36.       EM: Do you read the Farmers Weekly


8.37.       CL: Yes, on does read the Farmers Weekly, one gets a broader, umm, umm, umm, view of, of, things from other magazines as well, as I say, thereís, thereís, the, umm, CLA magazine is extremely informative, a lot of things have references in the back of them and one rushes off, and, err, the references, that, that one reads about umm, in, in any scientific journal, you can further it, umm


8.38.       EM: Do you find, youíre


8.39.       CL: I get things


8.40.       EM:Sorry


8.41.       CL:  off the internet


8.42.       EM: You do


8.43.       CL: umm, apart from the fact I canít see the dam thing, my arms arenít long enough to get away, canít use the keys, and, and, and the screen at the same time, so I have to shout for help, and, and one of my nannies has to, get, get, get it off the internet for me, no itís not quite as bad as that, but I do get things off the internet, umm


8.44.       EM: And do you have contact with other farmers, how much do you have contact with other farmers discussing, you know, your experiences


8.45.       CL: Oh I went to, umm, err, Home Grown Cereals Authority, lunch time yesterday, which ended at four oíclock, err, and we had umm, two hours of, of, of tossing things around, umm, of ways and techniques of improving things, how bad things are etcetera, and I think Iíve got my finger on the pulse


8.46.       EM: And do you have contact with farmers in other countries


8.47.       CL: Iím going to, New Zealand, umm, in a fortnight today, umm, specifically to look at, umm, how New Zealand has cooped with, umm, the problems itís had, and there, in the late seventies, umm, Iíve been before, and Iím going on, on a, a fact finding tour, umm, in the seventies when they had their big crash, the price of agricultural land dropped by fifty per cent, and subsidies went out the window, and they were left with virtually, total subsistence farming, and umm, Iím going to see, how that will apply when and if, umm, we pull out of this dreaded economic, economic, European, whatever itís called, umm, and weíre left on our own because, umm, itís painfully obvious that we cannot continue as we are


8.48.       EM: Just out of interest, when you go round New Zealand will you be put up by other farmers, or, is that the way it works, do they kind of, put you up while youíre on your fact finding mission


8.49.       CL: Umm, err, the other countries are the same as this count, country, in as much as, as bed and breakfasts and farm stays have umm, cropped up, and, I certainly never, donít think about staying in smart hotels, we get um, the farm house bed and breakfast, umm, book and umm, when we find somebody in any country, err, and Iíve done this for the last four years in Africa, umm, as soon as you find somebody whoís half intelligent, heís usually got umm the grapevine out and he will direct you onto somebody whoís equally, if not more intelligent further down the road and if you, you only need a small number of contacts in any country and the thing snowballs and youíre passed on, umm, and you usually find that youíre nearly killed by hospitality, err, if you come back, alive, youíve got to wonder why you havenít died of alcoholic poisoning


8.50.       EM: Ha, ha, okay, I want to ask you about the, the, the EU, which you mentioned but Iím just going to finish off, your contact err with the outside world, what about Farming Today, is that useful to you at all, do you listen to that


8.51.       CL: I never listen to Farming Today, no, umm, basically because itís the wrong time of the day, I find, I donít want to hear other peopleís problems at that time of the day, oneís mind is got so many problems of itís own at that time of the morning, err that, no, I donít, but I rely on a number of people who are not related to farming at all, have no dealing with farming, who ring me up and say, did you hear on farming today, could it be possible, err and I can always apply for a transcript or, or, or ask them, whatever, umm, no I donít listen to Farming Today, I know I should, itís one of the few times of the day when I like to think that Iím either getting up to go and do something or umm, Iím very keen on, on classical music, and itís one of the few times of the day when I do actually listen to some decent music at that time of the morning


8.52.       EM:And what about The Archers


8.53.       CL: Ha, ha, no, I donít listen to The Archers, umm, itís, itís fictional, and umm, a tiny brain like mine can only absorb so much, and err, as soon as you start getting science fiction err, into it, umm, then err, youíre down the road to umm, a certain unfortunate end


8.54.       EM: What about the NFU, are you a member of the NFU


8.55.       CL: I am indeed a member of the NFU, yes


8.56.       EM: And do you feel well represented by it


8.57.       CL: I think the NFU is in, in, in an invidious situation at the moment, umm, the President of the NFU, both this one and the previous one were umm, we had good relations with them, umm, weíre friends, yes, I thought can call them friends, and umm, we umm, I have a great respect for them , I think theyíve got the most difficult job to do, because we have a Government which is not remotely interested in doing anything for British agriculture, and err, it doesnít matter whether youíre umm, representing or, a representative of the Tenent Farmers Association, Country Land Owners err, or the err NFU or the Countryside Alliance, or anything else, umm, we are ruled, and this is fact, umm, by umm err, large majority of politicians who live in, umm, towns and cities and the rest of us that live in rural areas are umm, not, I donít think looked after umm, most frightfully well, and I think this applies to umm, both sides of the House, I donít think itís, itís but the, but the Government of the day gets the umm, takes most of the blame for the current situation, traditionally labour government have been rather kinder to British agriculture, and I think that somewhere down the line, umm, the Prime Ministers got to listen to the President of the United States, will take a leaf out of the, the President of the United States umm, book, that a strong and healthy American agriculture is the basis of umm, a strong economy for America, weíre teetering on the brink, we manufacture nothing in this country, err, we are about to go to, I think, quite a large economic spiral downhill, because nothing is produced, weíre relying on everything to be imported, umm, and the great British public expects the very cheapest it can get, it doesnít give a dam under, umm, what conditions they are produced, umm, and I mean, I can cite, any number of examples, and, and, and, and, and Ií sure you donít need me to tell you, but the greatest worry of the lot is, the chicken episode, we had umm Edwina Curry and Salmonella, err and every since then, umm, there are so many rigorous checks put in for the poultry industry and I have a cousin who had an enormous flock of poultry, he, it, it, it virtually bankrupted him, umm, the umm, the rules and regulations that are put in and, and, in that particular industry, yet we can import, millions upon millions of, of umm, chickens from South America err, from, the far-east, which I can assure you are produced under the most unsavoury ways, because theyíre produced abroad, one automatically assumes, they are subject to the same regulations as things that are produced in this country, and this is just not true


8.58.       EM: When would you date the demise or the crisis, where would you say that, that it began, you say both members of the house, both sides of the house are equally to blame, but when, when do you think, I mean in your forty two years, farming so far, what, I mean was there, was there a hay-day at all in that, in those forty two


8.59.       CL: I think immediately, Iím talking now, I mean it makes me sound as though Iím a hundred and, god knows what, immediately after the war, umm, people when they were hungry grabbed anything there was to eat, and they didnít question it, whether it was produced on the black market, whether it was produced in this country, whether it came in food aid and umm, letís, umm, letís umm, transpond our ideas to umm Zimbabwe at the moment, if we were in their situation err, we wouldnít worry whether the maize that came in was genetically modified, whether it was produced in the United States with artificial fertiliser, whether it was organically umm, produced, or whatever, one would say, one was a Zimbabwean now and hungry, one would say, for gods sake, give me that bloody bag of maize, and weíll argue about it later on, umm, and I think thatís where I came in, err, at that stage, when agriculture was very buoyant, everything one produced, err, and we were encouraged to produce more, more, more to become self-sufficient and I suppose that it was from about the seventies onwards, that umm, the public questioned what they were eating, and quite rightly too, umm, umm, but I think theyíve taken this too far, and if you take an analogy of the British Motor industry, everything is now produced abroad, you canít, well you can, but youíve got to pay like hell for it, umm, a motor car that is not produce umm, in, in, abroad, i.e. something that is bespoke, in this country, we have rings fenced British agriculture, by saying that the, the EC has got to have umm, dictates, which say, how things are done, err, they make goodness knows how many rules, umm, which, we adhere to, but Europe does not, I went on a fact finding tour in November, two months ago to France, umm, and we went onto a farm that was producing Pate de Fois Gras, and umm, there they were feeding these duck umm, killing them on the farm, putting the, the, the Fois Gras into containers, and selling them, and I asked through and interpreter, so that I got an unbiased answer, umm, what happens if you have an inspector, what does the inspector say, were the health regulations, enforced by the EC and he looked at me and said, puh, and waived his arm, as much as to say, donít bother with that sort of question, we flunk them, the dictate


8.60.       EM: We flood them


8.61.       CL: flout them


8.62.       EM: flout them


8.63.       CL: We flout them, umm, and I think I saw something in, in, was sent to me only this week, from last weeks Scotsman, saying that the EC, nine hundred dictates come out in, umm, the last year, umm, Germany has flouted four hundred and something, France had flouted three hundred and umm, some and weíd flouted three, zero three, i.e. we are a nation of law abiding citizens, we therefore when, the Government or the, the powers that be, say, you will do something, we do tend to do them, this costs money, Spain doesnít give  a dam, they kill their sheep and whatever virtually at the side of the road, umm, the slaughter houses, this is another subject, the reason that British beef costs so much is that, it is being killed by local slaughter houses, having to be closed because they canít coupe with the regulations, the health inspector, the meat inspector, and every other dammed inspector, therefore itís been put out to much bigger factories, we used to have half a dozen slaughter houses within, ten or fifteen miles from here, err, now there is only one, umm, most of the cattle that I sold from here, either go to Somerset or to York to be slaughtered, look at the cost, where does the cost end up, with the farmer, since foot and mouth, we have to put up with, umm, compulsory disinfection of the vehicles we take them in, what does that cost, twenty five pounds per lorry, in order to get it cleaned out, canít I bring it back here and do it, how do we know youíll do it, do I really want to bring any disease back here, I mean, in France, in Germany, anywhere else, this wouldnít apply, I mean it, it, it, it, they just wouldnít, they just wave them aside, and get on with it


8.64.       EM: So what would your answer be to at the, to abattoirs


8.65.       CL: Well I think weíve got to get down to regional farming, I think that, that, this is just breaking the ice, farmers markets, umm, diversify yes, diversify is a frightful word, how can you, as a, as a, a large scale arable type farmer, diversify, what can you diversify into, umm, I couldnít possibly think, with, with three men on the place of, of, diversifying into growing mange tout, mange tout have got to be flown in from Kenya, which they are, Iím unlikely to diversify into putting up thousand of acres of, of, greenhouses or poly-tunnels in order to grow kiwi fruits, umm, because, surprise, surprise there are climates in this world that grow kiwi fruits, umm, more effectively, and more efficiently, Iím not going to compete with, umm, South Africa growing Outspan oranges, umm, because we donít grow oranges, I mean, there are basic things which can be grown, umm, and which canít be grown in this country, which have to be, flown-in, umm, we can produce pig meat, we could produce pig meat, economically, thatís been taken away from us, umm


8.66.       EM: Could you tell me about that, your experience of having to, you did have pigs on the farm and you


8.67.       CL: I had, I had a, yes, I had a, umm, a separate pig farm, which was umm, highly mechanised, umm, we thought very well run, fiscal figures were extremely good, we were a breeding herd, and a fattening herd, err, on the MLC coatings we were always in, in the top ten percent, dare I say we were usually in the five, the top five percent, umm, our health standard was of, of the highest, we were in every voluntary umm, health scheme, umm, we were multiplying up for breeders for others, i.e. we were working for a large company, and there were premiums all the way down the line, umm, but after in, what was it, err, seven, eight years ago, when the figures started tailing off, umm, we suddenly found, that we were loosing money and we monitored everything, we had a cost and work account, so we, we, because we couldnít accept the figures we were doing were right, because they were always coming out on the negative side, umm, we lost twenty-five thousand pounds in one year and twenty seven thousands pounds the following year, and surprise, surprise, I put my arms up and said I can stand this no longer they must go, err, what affect did that have, it made people redundant, umm, it umm, meant that there was an enormous amount of buildings etcetera that, that were left, umm, unproductive because they were specialised, buildings err, and they, still are, we sold some, umm, but umm, it, yes, it left a nasty taste in oneís mouth, because one felt one had been a failure, err, and I think anybody thatís had any enterprise that is, has, has come unstuck, umm, does feel that their a failure, umm, but again the regulations are such, that umm, pigs can be produced from abroad, err and shipped-in, umm, a lot of them, in, in, in bring us down was Demark, which umm, subsidised itís pig industry, Government subsidised them, umm, did trade missions and goodness knows what, did immediate things through to supermarkets, umm, and Danish bacon in this country was, was err, was the best, Polish bacon now is umm, umm Romanian, Czechoslovakian, umm, anything youíd like to name other than British, umm, that is the one industry that I can see that, umm, I now think, that it is, is, is probably a good thing that we have phased out, or that there are fewer pigs, because my goodness, I mentioned a minute ago the question of smalls, country smells, the one country smell, that I really canít stand, and I donít think that the great British public ought to stand umm, is, umm the smell of, of, of umm pig muck, umm, because it is, simply appalling, and we havenít managed to get a method of injecting it into the soil, to get away from, from the smell and therefore question, should we be having, umm, pig units, big pig units, on top of the Downs, well away from civilisation, umm, in the Highlands umm, on Sharp Fell, where should pig units be in this country, if they want them in Poland and they can, and, and, and itís doing Poles a good turn, now that Iím out of the thing, I feel that, so be it, I donít think that the Governmentís ever been very keen on, umm, subsidising the pig industry


8.68.       EM: So you actually said that, that, pigs can be economic but you, you actually advise


8.69.       CL: I, theyíre not economic here, no


8.70.       EM: I thought you said that one form of diversification was pigs


8.71.       CL: No, no, no


8.72.       EM: Could work


8.73.       CL: No, I said the one thing, that umm, pigs, was one form of, of, increasing production on this farm, which we tried, which hasnít worked


8.74.       EM: Oh, sorry, right, right, got you


8.75.       CL: umm, definitely, it, it, it was, and always has been an accepted part of, of, umm, this part of the world, always has had a fairly high pig population, youíve only got to go down to Wallingford or across to, umm, the Downs or, or whatever and you come across, usually the first thing that hits you, is, is, is the sight of these huts of outdoor pigs which, thereís, one method of, of doing them, umm, others were big intensive buildings, another method of doing them, umm, but the first thing that usually hit you is the smell, and umm, I do feel very sorry for people that have to put up with that, because I feel itís an unnatural smell, and itís day-in, day-out


8.76.       EM: What do you feel about the recommendations of the Food and farming Commission to switch from subsidising production to subsiding environmental, to, to, sorry, environmental subsidies


8.77.       CL: I think that there an awful lot of grey areas, umm, I think that itís err, as I say, weíve got to stop and have a look at which way we are going, umm, we all recognise, not only the farming industry but the whole, British public realise that, that, that, umm, things have got to change, umm, the Uruguay umm, conference was such the, the last Johannesburg umm, conference, which ended in complete shambles, err but they did come out with certain things they started slinging mud, err, at each other, that umm, that things have got to change, umm, go back a step, over a third of the population of the world is below subsistence level, the rich countries have got to support the poor countries, now whether this is through aid, through trade, umm, is not for me, because there are professionals, Iíve talked to people, in places like the world bank and umm, agricultural advisors the world over, umm, and there, there are more ways than one of killing a cat, umm, I think weíve got to concentrate on doing what we can do best, if we, um, um, um say that we are going to become park keepers as farmers, and just keep the place looking lovely, umm, this has got to be very clearly defined, are you going to say that the whole of England is going to be kept as a, as a park of just the scenically beautiful areas such as Dartmoor, Westland, umm, pretty parts, because if youíre giving a grant to somebody, thereís got to be a boundary, and the one farm or the estate, or the village thatís just out of the boundary, could say, why should he get x pounds for doing dam all and I donít, so who is going to be the judge, the jury, the executioner as to where the axe falls, these are the grey areas that are so terribly difficult, err, weíve got an environmentally sensitive umm, area, along the Thames here, where there is a subsidy umm which is payable to the Upper Thames reaches, that stops, umm, here you are, the Upper Thames tributaries, the environmentally sensitive areas, they are paying various tiers of payments to, luckily to me, because Iím here, in the Upper Thames area, but a great friend of mine, who farms Lechlade which is further up the Thames, is not included in that, he cannot apply for those subsidies despite the fact that heís on the Thames, heís still the upper reaches, why, oh well, the scheme never extended quite far enough, but itís been there for five years, why should this be,  more of an environmentally sensitive area than Wallingford, Marlow, Teddington, where does the Thames go after that, Central London, I mean, I, I, it doesnít make sense, you know, itís not possible to, to, to define this, so


8.78.       EM: And how would, how does that subsidy for the environmental sensitive compare to what you might have got from


8.79.       CL: Others


8.80.       EM: Growing, growing, no, from growing, from actually producing, using the land as arable, or


8.81.       CL: Umm, what theyíre trying to do, it would seem that theyíre trying to do, is to, umm, there, there are, I mean, let, let, Iíve, Iíve taken that one out of context, but there, there are, Country Stewardship schemes, which we can all join into, umm, if youíre committed to that, umm, youíve got to give a, a financial commitment that you will, improve the hedges, that youíll widen the margins, that you will do this, and you wonít do that, and you wonít put fertiliser on here and will do, other things, all of which, the effect is, that it is lower the, the production of this country, I was brought up to, umm, to do the very best one could, umm, I mean, if, when, at, at, ones junior school you ran in a umm, umm, a race, you didnít try and come last, you, the idea was to win, umm, if you were playing a silly card game, umm, at oneís boarding school, the idea was to, to win as much, not to, to, to, to loose as much, when youíve started, umm, and you got to exam time, you wanted to do your best, not your worst, when you entered, a, a firm or business, or anything else, you wanted to, be in the top whatever umm, thing it was, for production, for, for, it, thatís where you got your good marks


8.82.       EM: But is it more profitable


8.83.       CL: But now, we are, have, I entered farming, the idea was to get the maximum out of every acre as economically as we could, now the philosophy totally change, but Iím too old to change, I look at a piece of land and say, what can I produce off this economically, not is it, right to turn the whole thing over, to be paid by the Government, knowing that Government funds are going to go down and down and down, umm, to set it a side to, to do nothing with it, and this is, to me, fundamentally wrong, because immediately, because Iíve travelled quite a bit, you think that other parts of the world, other people who would give their high teeth to have land like this, to have water, to be able to, natural rainfall, umm, to have, to be able to produce food, from this, when they are starving, now thereís something terribly wrong, this is one of the things that I say, the world has got to settle down, to, to work it out, does this make sense to you


8.84.       EM: Absolutely, and, I, I, Iíve several related question, one is that one of the farmers that I interviewed said that he would prefer, he felt, he was treated like a social leaper because of the sub, subsidy junky


8.85.       CL: Yes


8.86.       EM: And he said, he would prefer, he said, the tax payers going to pay either way, he would prefer that his, he had no subsidy and his food was more expensive, what do you feel about that, what do you feel about the whole subsidy issue, the, the best way to handle it


8.87.       CL: And this was a farmer who said this to you


8.88.       EM: A farmer said he would actually prefer, because he feels that heís treated as this subsidy junkie, he would prefer, to, that his, the food that he produced, was more expensive, and there was no subsidy and then, what I think his logic was that the tax payer would pay less in sub, in terms of subsidising farmers, whether that would immediately affect the tax payer


8.89.       CL: Yeah, yeah, one, one hopes, that, that he was in a, in a medium-high income bracket, umm, where it didnít really matter to him, whether he was umm, paying a little amount of money for his cauliflower or an enormous amount of  money for his cauliflower, umm, going into depressed areas of this country, go down to Cardiff, to Swansea, go up to Liverpool, umm, go to Macclesfield, go across to Northumberland, where the miners have lost their jobs, thereís high unemployment, go to just outside where my sister in law lives in Glasgow and err, see, the poverty and ask the same question, would you rather, umm, pay more for your food, umm, or would you pay less for your food, youíll get a very sharp answer, umm, so it, it, again itís horses for courses, umm, if we didnít know anything different and food was more, I think youíd get more beggars on the street, youíd get more, people on social security, umm, it, it, itís swings and roundabouts, Iím, I canít see how itís ever going to be solved in, in one fell hit, hit, you come back to the agricultural thing, umm, the more people, umm, pay, or think theyíre paying-in, umm, to a umm, system, the more they want to be part of it, umm, if your paying tax, and the News of the World, The Daily Mail, or whatever it is, makes a, umm, a thing about it, that you are paying these farmers to drive round in big Land Rovers, etcetera, etcetera, a wonderful analogy to that is, umm, only in last weeks spectator, umm, there was, umm, an article, umm, about the, the royal  palaces, and umm, the person who wrote this said, that she personally, didnít mind contributing, sheíd worked it out, four pence a year, umm, for umm,  Prince Michael to live in umm, Kensington Palace, and she was perfectly prepared to let, for the sake of peace, to pay four pence because, every tax payer in the country is paying four pence and at the day, it didnít really matter to her, and that puts it in context, yet when I find people that come here, and start walking all over this place and regarding it as though itís their own, umm, we know our rights, and we this, and they bring their litter down, they let their dogs go, and their children all over the place, and, and, and cattle are let out, and, and, err, goodness knows what, we are park keepers, but we havenít got the right of the park keepers in Oxford, or in, in, in London, or in the Krueger National Park, or anything else, I mean there, they adhere to rules, um, um, um, go to the safari park, you know, you donít just behave as you like, this is what we get, um, they drive right through the farm, because the rivers down there, and you say look, thereís a notice up there, saying itís a private road, they drive across the field, you say, where are you going, weíre going to the river, but, there are demarcations saying thereís a road, and this is private land, we bloody contribute to it mate, aha, societies altering, itís going to take a lot to educate people, are we spending enough money on education, are we spending enough money on thoughts, I donít know


8.90.       EM: So what about the subsidy question, what would your ideal scenario be, with subsidies


8.91.       CL: I think, itís going to be both, thereís got to be a production subsidy, err, um, um, the, the, everybody, every article, every thing you pick up to do with agriculture, is diversify, diversify into what, with had big thing, not  long ago,  diversify into golf courses, umm is this going, are we a nation of great golfers, where there are going to be golf courses absolutely everywhere, diversify, all derelict farm buildings must become umm, either storage buildings, or they must become, umm, office blocks in the country, where are these people going to be, that want to store things and want to, err, umm, umm, work in, in, in offices in the country, what the hell are they doing, umm, where are they going to come from, are we going to import them from Turkey, from Pakistan, or, or, or what, I mean, the, the imported people that weíve got imported into this country want to live in a tight night community, and, whether itís Bradford, or Leicester, or whatever, they donít want to be spread all over the country doing their own thing in little factories here, there, and everywhere, thereís a communications problem, umm, I donít know, I, I donít, I just donít know, itís, itís not my scene, I canít see the way out of this umm, spiders web, umm, weíve got ourselves into a whole, umm, and the more you look into it, umm the more frightful it is, umm, but it comes back to this economic return on capital invested, because that is what, all of us have got to focus on, can we do without subsidies, no, can we do with foreign competition, and, and still produce and keep our heads above the water, no, umm, can we continue in the CAP as it is, no, umm, bring us out of the CAP, will we be on our own, should we be allied more to America that we are at the moment, heaven forbid in view of the, err, the way the political world is going at the moment, I, I, it, it, I donít know, umm, we, we, are a nation, used to be a nation of traders, we used to be a nation of traders, we used to be a great, a great country with a Commonwealth, umm, weíve kicked Australia and New Zealand virtually in the teeth and told them to, err, umm, go to hell, umm, and weíre keen on trading with countries that Iíve mentioned, umm


8.92.       EM: Youíve said that you wanted to get out of, of the EU, where does that mean you stand on the Euro


8.93.       CL: I donít think that, err, I love the idea of, of, of the Euro per se, I think itís wonderful, I mean I love going to, to, to France and, and, and flipping over from France to Spain, or from France into Belgium and having the same currency, and not having to think, oh glug, glug, glug, weíve got to fill up our car in the next, umm, umm five kilometres because as soon as we get to the boarder diesel is, is ten percent more over the boarder, I mean itís the same now, right the way through, umm


8.94.       EM: What about for the UK


8.95.       CL: Umm, well, I mean it, it, itís, it, it is


8.96.       EM: For farming


8.97.       CL: Complete nonsense, whether itís farming produce or anything else, umm, wine, booze, spirits, cheese, umm, whatever, you have people going to France to buy, it is that much cheaper over there, how come, umm, why is, is, is food err, excreta, umm, I canít answer that question, but it physically is, weíve got the two tier system, umm


8.98.       CM: But would the Euro be good for British farming


8.99.       CL: I think the Euro might be, but being umm, umm, I personally am, am, terribly anti joining up any more with, with, umm, the European economic community than we are at the moment, a nation of free traders, I think, umm, I honestly, Iíve never been in, in that situation, I think that if we joined umm, further down the economic community, thatís where an awful lot of our things, stem from, umm, if youíve seen the figures, which Iím sure you have, umm, as to how much weíre supplying, umm, towards the European economic community, we are on of the main countries, for supporting it, theyíre bringing in, what is it, a further eight, nine, ten, countries, who are the poor relations of Europe, are they going to be swilling the coffers, no, theyíre going to be taking it out of us, and out of Germany and out of France, we are going to be supporting them, is that right, if Russia comes in, is that right, Iím mean itís virtually a bankrupt country, itís got huge reserves, itís got wonderful soil, wonderful land, huge depths of, of, of, of soil but they donít produce anything, what are they contributing, donít know

8.100.  EM: Okay, please have some water and then Iíll, going to move on


8.101.  CL: You want to go back to that one actually, umm, the figures theyíre of, I canít, canít be bothered to find them


8.102.  EM: No, donít worry, donít worry, weíre doing well, what role do you think supermarkets have to play in the current crisis, in British farming


8.103.  CL: I think supermarkets, are a two edge weapon, I mean, this is, is supermarkets and shopping malls, in, in, in the States and in other countries, umm, is, umm, the way, that, that, um, it, it well, it must be the way, that the British public wanted it to go, umm, because otherwise they wouldnít have succeeded, umm, they have succeeded because you canít park your town, your car in a town, umm, you can drive to a supermarket, which is usually on the edge of the town, or certainly you can get a bus to a supermarket on the edge of the town, umm, you can walk in, everything is there, itís all the same temperature, you havenít got to go from pillar to post, umm, going from the butcher to the baker to the candlestick maker and back again, that all, itís all under one roof, umm, if the priceís are readily available, umm, you can go from one to another, if you donít like one, you can go to another, umm, you arenít forced to shop in the supermarket, personally I think theyíre hell, umm, but luckily, I, I donít have to go into one very often


8.104.  EM: How have they affected your farming life


8.105.  CL: I donít think theyíve affected our farming life most awfully, and, and a great deal, I donít think theyíve affected us a great deal because we are prime producers, now, we have specialised in producing wheat, barley, oil seed rapes, beans, cattle for specific markets, now take the wheat scene, we grow quite a lot of milling wheat, which ends up as bread, an awful lot of it, is exported to Morocco, to Egypt, etcetera, etcetera, now, am I to diversify, and


8.106.  [door shutting]


8.107.  CL: Oh, weíre on the hour, umm, tee


8.108.  CL:  Am I to diversify into baking, umm, to competing with the supermarkets or, the big baking companies, which, which are there, the answer is no, itís not my expertise, umm, supermarkets have done irreparable good but theyíre also done irreparable harm, as far as, as, as, err, umm, families are concerned, Iím sure that theyíve kept the cost of, of, of production, err the cost of food, staple diet of food theyíve kept that down, umm, if people felt that the little Pakistani shop on the corner, which has itís great uses, sadly, they are often usually, umm, that much more expensive, so if itís, if where looking for straight, keeping the cost down, giving the British public, a wide choice of, Iím terrified, thereís a bid going on a the moment, that the supermarkets are going to land up in two or three hands, and then the price will be hyped-up, then look-out, what do I think happens then, you go and buy that supermarkets shares, and you become a large shareholder in Marks and Spencer or Sainsburyís or Tescoís or whatever it is, umm, but donít try and compete against them, I know theyíve screwed the price down, but this is what traders have done all the way through, go and try becoming umm, umm a farmers market umm, I canít take a lorry load of wheat into, into the local town and say, come and buy my fresh wheat, err, straight from the farm, umm, because people donít want a lorry load of wheat, umm, if they want flour, they want it in thirteen kilogramme packs, umm, to bake themselves in a bread machine, or, or , or whatever, umm, and itís no use my taking a cow in saying, here you are, buy your rump steak on the hoof and what donít want to do, feed to your dogs, because people canít deal with that, so itís horses for courses, umm, umm, umm, the diversification, the subsides and umm, the supermarkets all are beyond my comprehension and my ken


8.109.  EM: So where does your, where does your food, how does your food get to, the, to the public as it were, how does your, what is the


8.110.  CL: We sell, we sell to merchants, we sell to corn merchants, umm, who are, in effect brokers


8.111.  EM: You donít deal directly with supermarkets at all


8.112.  CL: We donít, I donít deal with supermarkets at all


8.113.  EM: So you havenít got


8.114.  CL: I can be part of a chain, which can, through farmers buying groups, and, or farmers selling groups, umm, in this instance selling groups, umm, which are, quality assured, err, and they have certificates on, on the walls, that we, we are part of the schemes, umm, which means that we can sell to, but they are brokers, and they umm, will, will, in turn sell their produce to umm, slaughterhouses in, in, in the livestock section, who have contracts for, very, very narrow specifications, to supermarkets


8.115.  EM: So the gridlock that Tony Blair spoke of, that supermarkets have many farmers in, hasnít, you donít feel too aversely affected by


8.116.  CL: I can go, I, I can go and sell to umm, what they call the family butcher, be it in Oxford market, or be it in, in, in the local town, or whatever, and umm, many towns you can find that there is a family butcher, almost opposite the supermarket, you can ask the people why they go into the supermarket, because itís cheaper, why do you go to the family butcher, because itís better, now, we canít dictate, you, thou, shall go to, or thou shanít go to, because itís freedom of choice and itís exactly the same as, as, as the organic argument, umm, somebody will say organic is much better, this hasnít been proved, you can sell organic, in, in, in umm Belgravia, you can sell organic in Brighton, but you canít sell organic in Barnsley, and, and parts of Birmingham and, and, and other places beginning with B, because as I said earlier on, the, the, there on, almost, on subsistence levels


8.117.  EM: Now on that subject, you are one of the few, I think, farmers in Britain that has tried out GM



8.118.  CL: Hmm


8.119.  EM: What has your experience been of that and what made you opt to do that


8.120.  CL: Umm I opted to do this, because umm, it, it, it is a question that needs answering, umm, I did quite a lot of research into it, umm, and genetically modified materials have been growing world-wide on a commercial scale umm, particularly in America, Canada, Australia and now, huge quantities in China, umm, and they, and I mean they, the powers that be, have put down the argument that, umm, it is going to do no harm to the environment, in fact Iím now of an opinion having grown genetically modified crops, umm, now for, weíre in our third year, only on a trial basis, umm, that in fact it will do the environment good, umm, we were told that umm, weíd have Frankenstein foods, weíre going to produce children with two heads and they were going to do this, and they were going to do all sorts of ghastly thinks, umm by the scaremongers, umm, and people really had no evidence to, to say the things that they said, the scientific evidence err, and Iím not a scientist, but I have talked to a number of eminent people, and umm, the most important is, is the professor Christopher Leaver in, in the science park in Oxford, umm, who is a very great man, umm, well qualified, umm, and umm, he is come, as, a, a, majority of scientists have come to the err, conclusion that, as far as the world is concerned, it can do nothing but good, umm, I think the Government took, umm, an over cautious stance on this, but the Government does take a awf, an, an, an over cautious stand on most thinks to do with food, umm


8.121.  EM: What, what did you actually grow, was it oil


8.122.  CL: We grow oil seed rape and maize, umm, and this was as I say done under very close supervision of umm, an independent Government appointed board, umm, and everything that we did was carefully monitored by an independent scientists at Rothampstead experimental station, err, and you couldnít really sneeze near the plot without, umm, having to warned, umm, an scientist first, umm


8.123.  EM: What hectarage did you put under


8.124.  CL: We, we did, they were very small trials, they were normally five hectares, most, at max, umm, in each crop, and umm, it was monitored to the extent that the Government, umm, had to announce where the sites were, so the public knew, and umm, it had to be, umm, I use the word kosher but it had to be transparency was the nature of the business, umm, so everybody knew where they where, and we have had fanatics have been in and trashed one, two, umm, two crops theyíve trashed, but one they missed completely and got off target, umm, and umm, also succeeded in trashing and acreage of, of something that was not, nothing to do with the trial at all, umm, this is what I, I, I found simply alarming because umm, it is, it is, I can tolerate suffragettes umm, I can tolerate peace movements, but when a trial is being conducted then let this trial go through and let the scientists then be the judge and the jury and we then become the executioners or the public does, umm


8.125.  EM: When you say it was trashed by fanatics, does that mean in the middle of the night


8.126.  CL: Yeah


8.127.  EM: People came in and


8.128.  CL: Yup, yup


8.129.  EM: And what, what was your reaction to that then


8.130.  CL: I was sad, umm, to say that I was bloody angry umm, would have been an over, over, over reaction, no, I was sad, umm, umm, umm, umm, because I think this is, is linked back to the fear syndrome, where does the fear syndrome come from, err, itís whipped up, umm, umm, through a certain hatred, umm, and it, it, it reminded me of, of, the, the, Iíll go back a stage, when it was announced that we were going to grow these, one of, of the organisations umm, organised a meeting in the village, having put everything, err, having put leaflets through letter boxes with a lot of half truths, saying that these crops were going to be grown on their doorstep, and that they should object, so a meeting was organised err, in the village hall, err, for the people about which weíve spoken, whoíve moved into country areas, who donít really havenít given it a great deal of think, err, and, and there was white anger, umm, I had suddenly become the villain of the piece, having lived here for thirty odd years and didnít realise that, that, that people could be, so totally angry, and I felt a little bit like a Jew with a shop in the middle of germany, in, in the late thirties, umm, and I felt that I was being spat at, that I was being, err, vilified, umm, for all the wrong reasons, and they found lots of reasons, with, this, was just one of them, the wrong reasons, err, that I was trying to, umm, lead the country into having umm, weeds, which couldnít be controlled, umm, umm, and genetically modified this and it was going to spread to that, and the other, and the whole of the countryside was going to be ruined and we were going to be using new chemicals to, to control umm, and we were going to err, kill all the butterflies and the bees and the flowers and, they hadnít done their homework, they had done their homework up to umm, umm, a, a, point of, of really raising the rabel, umm, and I had well in excess of a hundred letters, umm, I felt that umm, we had umm, a private security firm, which where keeping an eye on us because we didnít feel terribly secure, umm


8.131.  EM: Which you had to pay out of your own pocket


8.132.  CL: No, no, no, no, no, no this was all taken care of by, by, by, basically it was Government oriented but the police were notified and the, the, we, we donít, err, that, that was all taken care of, and we were warned that this was going to happen umm, the road is just out there, I had eggs thrown over the wall at the windows, fine, you know, it didnít matter, children have grown up and gone, we can all look after ourselves, umm, but umm, Nicolas who is, is my partner, umm, in umm, farm partner, umm, has got a, umm, umm, a wife whoís a doctor umm, and three small children, do you want to turn it off


8.133.  EM: Yeah, letís turn it off


8.134.  EM: Iíll just explain, weíve just had to move into a different room because, umm, Mr Lewisís Secretary has come in to do some work, so weíre in a different room now, so weíre decided as we were mid the GM discussion we going to start again fresh and use either material but, at least cover all the ground of, of the GM discussion now, and I might actually start by asking you, you mentioned earlier, that, no, Iím, no, Iím not actually, no, no, Iím not actually, Iím going to ask you that later, err, I was going to say, you are one of the farmers in Britain


8.135.  CL: Umm


8.136.  EM: Of only a handful who decided to, go in for GM trials, what made you come to that decision and where you at all wary yourself to begin with


8.137.  CL: Yes, I think in any, anything thatís new, theyíre, there are three classes of people, one that are totally anti, one, those are, are with the big question mark on anything like this, and those that, because scientists say so, umm, accept it, umm, I fell definitely in the middle category, I wanted to know, umm, and if youíre dealing with people who cannot accept and there are people around, that the world is round, umm, that it is not round, that, that, that the world is, is, is flat, umm, thereís nothing you or I can persuade people that the world is actually round when they thin itís flat, and those that of the umm, two organisations umm, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, umm, who just cannot accept that, thereís, umm, anything about genetically modified material about genetically modified material that could possibly be good, or possibly could be anything other than evil, umm, Iím afraid that I loose patience, because I, I just cannot accept that the world is flat, when we know it is round, and that is there argument, umm, I wanted to see on the ground, I want to see what the benefits where, what the scientists said, umm, whether it was correct, and umm, Iím, Iím particularly worried about certain chemicals which were using in British agriculture or world agriculture, which are detrimental to life, err and life gone to, organic life, in, in, in the organisms in the soil, umm, and umm, what I saw, the benefits that they were bringing to, umm, umm, the countryside as a whole, were that they would, long term, do away with the soil acting chemicals, which are the ones that really are, destroying the soil, umm, be it the black grass killers, which are, are, we use in huge quantities in this country, and or simazines atrazines err, which are residuals in maize, which, as Iíll explain in a minute umm, are getting into the water courses, they, inevitably going to get into the water courses, because we are using, far too much of them, and if thereís an alternative, I want to know from these bodies, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, umm, you canít play this both ways, youíve either got play, if there is some risk, of genetically modified materials, which I donít personally think there is, umm, does that out weigh, or do, does the, use of, of, of chemicals out weigh the genetically modified thing, it is, it is a simple as that, umm, the very nature of these trials is that, the company that is doing the work, that is financing the work, which is umm, a well known chemical company, umm, puts out, they do all the, the, the leg work, they select the field and then they put it over to a Government department, who then come and check it, and they then divide the field in to two, now itís quite impossible to divide a field into two so itís absolutely identical, umm, it isnít like splitting a boy in half and even if you split a body in half, youíd find the heartís on one side and not on the other half, but it, it is as near, as they can do it, the Government scientists come out, they look at the field and say, we will split this fifty, fifty, and we will split it, north to south or east to west or whatever they think is, gives you, the nearest think from the ecology point of view, i.e. if thereís woods on two sides, theyíll split it so the wood is, so they can monitor umm, everything that is going on, and they have scientists of, of different disciplines that come out, umm, some of them are botanists, some of them are zoologists, some of them are interest in, in, in micro-bugs, some of them are interested in caribs, which are the beetles, umm, others are interested only in earth worms and err, over the last three years, umm, I have learnt and enormous amount umm, of these young people who are, mostly in their twenties are, are, umm, graduates in there varying disciplines, and umm, they of course are not prepared to say at this stage whether they think GM is right or wrong, but they were like myself, interested in getting a result, and getting the truth


8.138.  EM: Where you approached and asked if you would do the GM trial or did you offer yourself out of interest


8.139.  CL: Umm, I was, umm, one of the Council members of the Royal Agricultural Society of England, and the Royal Agricultural Society of England were asked to find volunteers from various parts of the country, and umm, I put my name forward and I was actually selected to, umm, to, to do trial work, and umm, jolly pleased I was, that umm, umm, because I was selected because I learnt an enormous amount, and met a lot of very nice and interesting people as a result of it


8.140.  EM: And do, you, do you get paid for the use of the land, more than you might, is there a premium on, I think youíve going to have to get rid of the couple


8.141.  CL: Dam this, umm, here look, get out, look, Willica, be, get on, umm


8.142.  EM: Hang on, donít answer until youíre sitting down, because, it wonít be on mic


8.143.  CL: We are paid an agreed rate before we start growing the crop, umm, which is, is, considerably more, than we would be paid for the crop that weíre growing anyway, when you start taking into account the number of people that youíre responsible to, err, and the hassle that oneís put to, err, and times that by a normal working manís life, it breaks about even, umm, in one instance I think that umm, that I lost bloodily, and err, in another instance I gained considerably, so


8.144.  EM: On one of the crops do you mean


8.145.  CL: On one of the crops, yes


8.146.  EM: The crop isnít then sold at all, itís all just analysis


8.147.  CL: The crop is then taken, err, in the, in the case of oil seed rape it is combined, under supervision, err, it is put into large bags which are sealed, sealed with a, a, umm, a proper sealer, and it is then taken by lorry, a sealed lorry to umm, an incinerator, which in this instance was somewhere off the coast of Kent, err, and it is destroyed, so nothing reaches the food chain, which if you think about it is pretty ridiculous, because umm, over twenty percent of the soya which comes into this country is genetically modified, umm, and this, in fact probably the oil seed crop will have gone into making aeroplane engines or industrial plastics or whatever it could have been diverted into, and that is what I call sad, but this is the way that the Government wanted, and as they were paying me to do this, thatís, thatís the way it went, the maize crop that we grow, umm, they take the whole of the crop that is genetically modified and it is chopped up, put in a muck heap and spread again, under Government supervision, err, and ploughed in, so not one grain of it, goes to be feed to cattle, the nub of the effect as I see it, as, as I went in with the scientists, because they come on average of once every two to three weeks depending on the growing season, on what was going on, or whatever, err, and they have free access to, to, to the crop and one resigns to the fact that they can appear when they like, that they, I went in with one lot of scientists on a really lovely hot, umm, late summers day, and we crouched in the, the genetically modified umm, side, which had been sprayed with, Roundup, which you can buy umm, across the country in, in, in any umm, garden store, umm, and the principle of that is, that as that hits the weed surface, it is an innate substance therefore thereís no residual in it at all, the other side, the control is done conventionally, and I say that with feeling, because atrazine is an approved chemical for control of weeds in umm, certain crops, and, and, umm, maize is one, err that atrazine kills everything, except the actual maize, so on the GM side, there was quite a considerable re-growth of weeds and although the weeds, they were, something I could live with from a farming point of view, but the bees were coming into the crop, the insects were coming into the crop where there is, umm, a blank space, there were, err, umm, birds were in the crop, umm, we noted a, umm, a cubby of partridges which were feeding on the grasses in the canopy of, umm, the maize, on the normal side, conventional as itís called, where the atrazine was, you could see right from one end of the field to the other, between the rows, of, of, maize because there wasnít a, umm, a single thing growing and it, it was dead, it was dead of, of there was no beetles, there were no birds, there were no insects, umm, and that to me, was, was, was, the turning point, when I said to myself, weíve got to go for this, as a country, weíre got to go for it, because it is, as far as the environment concerned, it is doing more good than conventional farming as we see it, and Iím not talking about organic farming, or, or, or anything as specialised as that


8.148.  EM: You had already been, youíd grown oil seed rape, you, you had many years, previous experience with oil seed rape grown in the conventional way


8.149.  CL: Yeah, and my own


8.150.  EM: So youíd seen, the experiences of that side of the field, as it were, years before, so that in a way wasnít any news to you, it was only, is that right, that youíd seen


8.151.  CL: But until you see something, literally done to a line, a spray mark down a field and you can walk in, a matter of five yards, from one thing to another, umm, one side to another, err, you donít err appreciate it, umm, it was, as, as, as black and white


8.152.  EM: So was there ever a time, when you saw the oil seed rape, like maybe in your earlier days farming, the conven, the so called conventional oil seed rape growing with, birds and bees, as it were


8.153.  CL: Well, you donít think of it in that way, I mean, until, youíre, youíre, youíre faced with, with, umm, an alternative, umm, and, you, your eyes arenít, arenít open to something until a scientist as such, points it out, and, itís only when, umm, you are faced with something, like a, a medical problem, the doctor says, well look at this, had you thought if you ate so and so, or did so and so, that effect would be, you donít think about it, you just carry on, in your own sweet way, err, I mean weíre all like children


8.154.  EM: And when you declared that you were going to start the GM trial what was the reaction of the farmers, the local farmers in your area, how did they respond to this


8.155.  CL: Fortunately the sites we choose in year one were sufficiently far away, umm, from other farmers, i.e. we were, could do it all on our own land, with, with enormous distances, away from others, and we picked these sites, or I submitted these sites, umm, because I was aware that there might be, umm, umm a controversy, umm, we had complaints from neighbours on the maize front, that, umm, that somebody was growing organic miles four miles away and they said that this would remove umm, their organic status, and that their umm, umm, that, that they could have seeds or pollen could be wafted over this distance and it could etcetera, well the maize breeders that Iíve visited in various parts of the world say that it, itís, umm, very difficult to get maize to pollinate over ten yards, it seems rather strange that they should be worrying about pollination over three and four miles, umm, but we had a set of guidelines, which were very carefully laid out by the Government independent body, and we were well within those parameters, therefore, I felt my conscious was clear, and I think that to give them their due, the opposition, and I put them as opposition that they have conceded that of course it made no difference to either their sales or their organic status, or their, umm, umm, whatever, but talk to the Soil Association and talk to err, the people that we mentioned earlier, umm, they would say that, that, that I flouted all the rules of, of, of umm, of nature and have umm, good neighbourliness and goodness knows what else


8.156.  EM: Did you feel a responsibility to your neighbouring farmers, both organic and non-organic, to tell them what youíre growing


8.157.  CL: I did and I did tell them, yes, and I disgusted it with them in, in every instance, umm, of the immediate neighbours, and umm, most of them said good on you, weíll coming to watch and see, and, and weíve had open days and open evenings and farm walks and umm, umm, I think that, that, the professional growers, umm, other then a couple of complete cranks, err, in the district, not just neighbours, but in the district, and they came from as far on way on, that particular evening Iím thinking of, as far away as Wallingford, and Chipping Norton and the other side of Swindon, so I mean itís, itís, itís a pretty big area, umm, because they were genuinely interested and wanted to see and, and, wanted to learn, and I had a scientist on, on tap, and, and the questions, umm from, from a number were err, umm, umm pretty barbed and pretty heated, but umm, I think that, that the heat was taken out of it, and err, they accepted, that I kept coming back and, and so did the scientists who I had on tap, but, a third of the world is umm, starving, that the agricultural land, is, is, is, is getting less, umm, due to buildings, due to goodness knows what, forests are being cut down, umm, we are, weíve got to, weíve got eighty million by, in twenty five years, eighty million population, umm, we canít go on, umm, a large section of the world does not accept the, the Chinese birth control methods are, are, right, itís, just a very simple good house keeping argument I think


8.158.  EM: Earlier in the interview, you mentioned that Zimbabwe for instance would never say no to a, as they, you know a hungry nation at the moment, to a, to a, tonne load of GM crops, though there were instances last year of African states


8.159.  CL: There were


8.160.  EM: Who rejected GM crops, what about that


8.161.  CL: I thought that the politicians were behaving as, as, as a number of African politicians are known to behave umm, theyíre pretty ruthless, umm, what are their ulterior motives, umm, are they trying to reduce the size of the population, are they trying to reduce the size, of, of the opposition err, within their countries, umm, it just seems strange, when, when, the more sophisticated scientific nations, and letís face it the Americans are absolutely scared to death of, of, of anything that might be detrimental to their health, theyíre more health conscious than any other country and they can afford to be, theyíre the richest nation in the world, umm, the, none of these questions about genetically modified foods, umm, raise their ugly heads in the states, umm, it is past by the USDA, the Department of Agriculture, USDH, the Department of Health, umm, once it gets that stamp we go for it, umm, who are we, or who are, err, the cranks of this country to say that, that is wrong, if for personal choice you wish, not to eat any particular thing, or to drink any particularly thing, thatís fine by me, I donít mind that, but I donít think you want to go round scaremongering and, and, putting your, dictating this to, to, superimposing your own will onto others


8.162.  EM: Though, that, what you just mentioned about the choice, a lot of the issue is about the labelling, and if there isnít labelling then people donít know how to choose between a GM and a non-GM product


8.163.  CL: Umm, thereís a lot of lies about this too, all false innuendoes, err, when this started, umm, we had the grand children to stay and there was a packet of Corn Flakes, the well known brand of cornflakes were on the, if you have any inform, umm, umm, umm, wish any information about this, umm please contact us on www dot, whatever it was on the website, and I couldnít resist and I wrote saying Iím very interested to know, what is your companyís policy regarding genetically modified food stuffs, and I got a reply back within hours, umm, that the, err, company policy is that we, will not use genetically modified umm, materials, umm, and that we source all our maize umm, from the Argentine, which does not use GM products, I had in front of me, arrived the week before, umm, the world food journal, which said that thirty-three percent of the maize grown in the Argentine was genetically modified, so I copied this out and sent it back to umm, the respondent umm, who signed her name umm, and umm, I never had a, err, an answer, so I said with reference to my fax, err my email of so and so, and so and so, I still havenít had an answer, no I mean, err, err, you know itís, we can all play these games, but we all want scientific evidence, take any label, and look at the flavours and the additives, that are, are, are put on any of these foodstuffs, are they healthy, what are they, not, half the times itís a serious of numbers, we donít know what the hell they are, and we wonder whether they in fact know what the hell they are, are they good for us, are they bad for us, what are the preservatives, that were, that our food are, are flooded with


8.164.  EM: If the GM, if they, if it had turned out to be GM cornflakes, letís say, would you have eaten them with impunity


8.165.  CL: Yeah, because I know, I know that Iíve eaten, genetically modified thinks in other parts of the world and Iíd almost goes as far to umm, say that umm, umm, I would prefer to try and prefer to die happy that Iíve tried, umm, Iíd rather do that, a pot of honey, when a pot of honey arrives on your table, and you look at the label carefully, and I had a pot of organic honey, which it said was the produce of many countries, which most honey has on the label, produce of many honey, countries, are all these countries guarantying that their bees have only gone to organic plants, I mean, it, it, it, it, itís glib talking


8.166.  EM: But then canít we t, turn that around and say that for your GM trials those bees are, are, you know, enjoying themselves on your GM maize crops or GM oil seed rape crop and then going over to


8.167.  CL: Possible, I had a bee keeper when I started who used to keep his bees here, to pollinate the, in the oil seed rape and, and, and the fruit trees and whatever locally, he came down in a storm of protest and removed his hives, because he said that I was going to remove his hives because he said that he was going to remove his trade and no body was going to buy his honey because he had bees in, in, in this locality, umm, whereís your proof, that itís going to be detrimental, ah, but whereís your proof that itís not, but we canít, this is like the world and Columbus setting sale, if the world is flat, he doesnít come back, the people that are eating his honey, one assumes, are still alive, cause I continue to buy his honey in vast quantities, hoping that he wouldnít be able to sell it to anybody else because I liked his honey


8.168.  EM: So you feel it was a necessary, things like him, your bee keeper, having to move because of the GM trial were a necessary evil, in order to find out about GM


8.169.  CL: Yeah, I donít think he had to, I mean he was told that all his bees would die, and, and, and that they wouldnít produce any honey and they wouldnít mutate and they wouldnít breed and they do what other bees do, umm, err, a third of the honey weíve got in this country comes from Canada, Canada is, is, is, is wall to wall genetically modified crops, they still produce honey, we still continue to sell it and buy it in supermarkets and probably not as Canadian GM honey, but honey produced from many countries, so


8.170.  EM: But do you feel the consumer should have a right to know that it is Canadian GM honey, or Canadian GM honey mixed with


8.171.  CL: No, because I personally donít think the GM thing is an issue, I think there are far more important issues regarding food and, and, umm, our way of life, and umm, err, lack of exercise, umm, umm, obesity, umm, call it what you like, you know, you could go on for ever, umm, if you buy, umm, umm, a ham, a McDonalds whatever it is, it doesnít say at the bottom, eat one, but eat two at your peril but that is probably a greater risk than, than, eating err, a very healthy food, which is, is, honey, despite the fact that itís got a GM content in it, which is, I would put it at, but I donít know, so itís no point in my putting it at a million to one risk, I, I, I donít know, the scientist that thereís zero risk, no scientist will say that thereís zero risk in eating two hamburgers or whatever theyíre called, umm, when one should be more than enough for you


8.172.  EM: Have you heard the case of Percy Schmeiser in Canada


8.173.  CL: Iíve got the thing chapter and verse, Iíve got the umm, the Percy Schmeiser, umm, case, umm, and Iíve got the trial report, err and as the trial report is actual transcript from the trial and what was purported to be, umm, stated in court, he freely admitted that he had actually kept the seed himself, and I, I can go and get it for you and then I can read from you, but I, I


8.174.  EM: I tell you, Iíll just ask you from the story as I know it


8.175.  CL: Yeah


8.176.  EM: Which is that he was not an organic farmer but a seed saver over many years of canola


8.177.  CL: Yeah


8.178.  EM: And umm, his neighbouring farmer opted to do GM canola and some of that in a windstorm, blow over into his farm, just less than ten percent of his farm, but Monsanto accused him of growing GM, of, of growing their crop and they should, it should belong to them, and he lost in court, because patent law, err, that however the crop got there, even if itís by nature, by wind, that crop must belong to Monsanto, thatís the story as I know it


8.179.  CL: Umm, I donít think that is, is, is, is quite right, and itís a long time ago but I remember say, being perfectly satisfied at the time, that not everybody was telling al the truth, all the time, either in court or out of court, and that there was an alternative, umm, solution, to the thing that, that, that might just be a possibility of somebody getting rich quick, whether it was the man himself, the neighbour or umm, Monsanto, or whatever, umm, but no money changed hands did it


8.180.  EM: Yes, heís, heís, had to pay, over two, hearly all his life sayings, two hundred thousand dollars


8.181.  CL: Oh, has he said that


8.182.  EM: Heís in his seventies now


8.183.  CL: Heís not


8.184.  EM: And that, he was going to retire but heís had to


8.185.  CL: Because he had to hand it over to


8.186.  EM: Court proceedings, court proceedings have cost him


8.187.  CL: Well he lost


8.188.  EM: He lost the case


8.189.  CL: He lost the case


8.190.  EM: He lost the case because of patent law


8.191.  CL: Because he, hmm


8.192.  EM: That, I mean, you know, as an onlooker you canít help but feel that patent law to rule


8.193.  CL: Yeah, this, this, we


8.194.  EM: To win


8.195.  CL: Iím not talking to, to you umm, from, one side of a legal argument or another side of a legal argument unless Iíve refreshed and got the up to date thing off, I think it was the internet, umm, but it was all sent me via Friends of the Earth at the time, and, umm, I got the people that I knew to give me the other side of the story, and it wasnít quite as it was put out, in, in the first instance and I donít know, at that stage, no money had changed hands, but if it has since, Iím not aware of it


8.196.  EM: One of the things that he mentioned, that had happened to him were that umm Monsanto would drop, not just his land but other land, drop bombs of err Roundup and then fly over the site a few weeks later to see who was growing GM crops and who wasnít, and he said would then put a letter through the farmers door if it seemed that they were illegally growing, GM crops, or however or not it had got to there land, I mean, thatís an example what do you feel about the tactics of organisations such as Monsanto


8.197.  CL: Umm, Monsanto is an enormous company, umm, I feel the tactics of, of any of these companies are umm, pretty good and pretty straight forward, umm, that they are looking after their shareholders, they are answerable to an enormous number of, of, of companies, of, err, organisations, as a company, they are backed by shareholders as well as, in that incident the US Department of Agriculture, umm, I donít think any large organisation is going to go dropping bombs of, of, of any one particular chemical in an area where you could see so patently, if you dropped a bomb over here it would kill all of my lawn and everybody else with that, and all my neighbours lawns and everybody in the district without saying, hey, somethingís happened here, what is this, whatís killed all, all, all my lawn, all my trees, all my shrubs


8.198.  EM: Is we, a bomb of Roundup


8.199.  CL: Yeah, thatís what you said


8.200.  EM: Yeah, yup, yup


8.201.  CL: They had dropped, I mean Roundup takes out just about everything, that is, is, is green, umm, in the same way as they use Tordon in Vietnam, which defoliated forests, and Roundup in, in a bomb form would, would take out everything, but in any community, it drifts terrifically does Roundup and you cannot spray it, I would have thought no, err, company that made a chemical could be so irresponsible just to drop it from the air if it sprays, says, that it should be sprayed diluted through, umm, an agricultural type sprayer, at, umm eighteen inches maximum from the ground level, which is, is the correct height, fourteen to eighteen inches, that they should drop it from an aeroplane, I find this slightly Star Wars-ishy, I donít think, I donít think this would happen, I canít comment, other than that, I donít think itís likely


8.202.  EM: Umm, the last, last think on that, on that story is that, apparently because of the presence of Monsanto and GM crops in Canada there no, there is now no possibility to grow organic canola, because cross contamination has been so extensive, do you think that, thatís a pity


8.203.  CL: I canít honestly see the need to grow organic canola, because canola is umm, one of the crops, that if you took it, if you grow organic canola, and you then took canola which was, was grown non-organically, I donít think, and I stand to be corrected that there is one, any one research organisation, other then looking at, at, at the DNA, if you rule that out, that they couldnít tell from analysis, from food analysis, tíother from which, and if thereís no, if they canít tell tíother from which thereís a, and, and it is established that, umm, genetically modified is not detrimental to human, animal or plant health, unless applied specifically in any specific instance, what is the argument about, I, I, I donít know


8.204.  EM: I want to come back to, more about organic in a bit but one last thought on that, is, err, umm, another comment actually that he said in his testimony, Percy Schmeiser was that all the promises, his, his neighbouring farmers who had experienced GM, the promises that Monsanto had made to them, non of them were meet, in as much as, he said, super-weeds were rife in their, the GM canola


8.205.  CL: How come then that itís expanded at the rate of twenty five per cent, year on year, since when ever this case was, which I think was 1999, that there has been this dramatic increase in, genetically modified foods


8.206.  EM: Possibly because of Monsantoís bullying tactics, possibly, not really giving the farmers a choice


8.207.  CL: I donít think, no, I, I, I, yes, I, I, letís get back to concepts, this is rather like saying, if you find that, that, British supermarkets, umm, have, have taken year on year, a twenty, twenty five percent increase in, in, in sales, umm, to say that, that is, is supermarket bullying tactics to the public, umm, is, to me, is a, is a bit far fetched, umm, canola is one of the three big crops in the, in, in, in Canada, canola is marketed, through a broker, not through Monsanto, Monsanto as far as Iím aware, unless theyíve umm, inadvertently bought shares into brokers, but it, it, it if you look at, then you can see the equivalent of Companies House in, in America, you can see what their terms of trading are, then, theyíre not trading, they are chemical suppliers, and Iíd be very surprised if they had invested into the brokers and, and umm, this is all sort of, MI5 stuff now, umm, I, I donít accept that, full-stop, that they have, have got at farmers and told what they can grow and what they canít grow, farmers, world wide seem to be up against it, if they can see something, which complies with the laws and the rules, and theyíre growing a crop, err, for sale, and it, it as I say complies with the law or the rules, theyíre going to go for it if they can make themselves more money, err, and if theyíre not ruining the soil or, or doesnít mean removing all the hedges or err, doing all the other ghastly things that, that farmers have accused of been doing, rape of the land, umm, and to that end I can give you all sorts of things to, to read, to prove, to back-up what Iím saying, but thatís only from where I sit


8.208.  EM: And when you had the instance, several instances of people coming and pulling up the crop, and destroying it, did you try to prosecute, what was your, what did you do in reaction to it



8.209.  CL: I couldnít prosecute cause they didnít know, who, where they where, or whence theyíd come, and, and, that wasnít umm, any more than you can prosecute who comes in and burns your barn down, or lets your cattle out, umm, I mean, in two instances I had, umm, cattle removed, umm, out of grass and, and, and umm actually pushed into a field of oil seed rape which contained genetically modified material, umm, how can you prosecute somebody who lets your cattle out in the night, err, and you find your cattle in my instance, one instance, umm, two miles down the, the bottom of the Thames, where theyíd just kept going, umm, you donít find, the perpetrators, so, so, so one doesnít prosecute, umm, if one found and caught somebody red handed from, from so doing, umm, it would be, difficult to prosecute them because the last lot, that, that were prosecuted, somewhere up in Warwickshire, umm, appeared in court and, and they got away with it, because they said that this was their right and responsibility for so doing, this is a legal matter, itís not for me to say


8.210.  EM: So just to round-up, the, the GM discussion, what do you, there seems to be, still, a lot of public unease about GM, whether or not itís informed or mis-informed in your view, what do you feel is going to be the future of, of GM in this country


8.211.  CL: You ask, what is going to be the future in this country, umm, the figures speak for themselves, world-wide, it is accepted, if we fail to accept what is the norm, umm, British agricultureís going to loose another trick, and we are going to, slip back further, umm, if we were told, that we werenít able to use, umm, artificially produced nitrogen fertiliser which is accepted worldwide, umm, weíd be put at a further disadvantage, umm, if the British public was told that, umm, global warming was due umm, petrol products used on the roads, and umm, that they would be denied petrol, and therefore denied almost, all independent means of, of, of transport, theyíd be a public out-cry, umm, I personally think, that Europe will, within the next five years, accept genetically modified crops and, that, that labelling itíll be, itíll go into, the, the great mass of foods, umm, and it wonít be, umm, it wont, it just wont be noticed, it, it, it wonít be commented on, umm, in the same way as I say, as flavours in all the foodstuffs that we, we, we, nay, if you start looking into things, look what ice-cream is made of, umm, all the filthy things that are put into ice cream, umm, ghastly things that, are, are put in, umm, there are all sort of feeding stuffs which, which we feed to, look at the preservatives in baby foods for instance, I mean, it, it, it, yet weíre still here, weíre all looking quite bonny


8.212.  EM: So it doesnít


8.213.  CL: Itís the other side of the whole, of this, this, argument is that we, as a nation, are healthier, living longer, than weíve ever been, in, in the history of mankind, and, we, we are, that hence, thatís one of the causes of, of this vast population explosion, which youíve got, far fewer infant mortality going, and youíve got the older people, like me, are living much, much longer


8.214.  EM: Though in


8.215.  CL: Weíre being kept healthy by basically, by what we put in our mouths


8.216.  EM: Though incidences, well cancer research organisations all say that we should be very careful about what we eat


8.217.  CL: Iím sure we should


8.218.  EM: And that it is, just these kind of preservatives and


8.219.  CL: Yeah


8.220.  EM: Additives that are cau


8.221.  CL: But nobodies yet levelled this, and Iím very keen on cancer research and, and, and follow it, and dare I say, even donate to it, umm, having had cancer myself, I know what, umm, remarkable discoveries have been made, umm, and, and the cures and goodness knows what, umm, but nobodyís yet said, pointed a finger and said, GM crops are responsible for, or, you should eat organic foods and nothing but, because, you will therefore be, naturally healthier, nobodyís yet, been able to


8.222.  EM: Though Iíve seen cancer research organisations definitely recommend organic foods, theyíve come out and recommended organic foods


8.223.  CL: They havenít been able to give the reasons, and if you


8.224.  EM: Right, so for you itís, itís, until you, you need the proof, is that it, you do have concern, I mean, how concerned are you about preservatives and additives and


8.225.  CL: I am obviously interested in preservatives and, and, and whatever, I mean, umm, when you get, umm, as happened a few years ago, that there were, umm, concerns about, Continental, European Continental, umm, wines, where, contained anti-freeze, umm, one things, oh my gold, umm, thing of the preservatives, that, that, go on in the wine trade, and Iíve seen them going in and I know what they are, umm, it makes you think, doesnít it, what does it make you thing, donít drink too much wine, umm, well, we know that, we donít have to do that anyway, umm, umm, all the preservatives that go into all foods, do concern me, but if they, where going to have to, have more, umm, refrigerators to umm, store foods, because they havenít got preservatives and thatís going to be a more greenhouse gases, question, is that good or is that bad, umm, umm refrigerators, freezing plants, run off electricity, fossil fuels, err, is that umm, umm, itís going to put the price up, let the people have the choice


8.226.  EM: So, just last word on GM, is your opinion then, that until there is proof that it is detrimental, you will continue, you feel it, it does not cause harm


8.227.  CL: I personally, umm, umm, sold on the fact that GM is good, umm, that it is going to be good for humanity, itís going to be good for the environment, and itís going to be introduced more and more, and there are going to be things that are genetically modified, and I, coming back right back to square one, what is genetically modified, can you look at any plant and say that it hasnít got some sort of cross, what is cross breeding, what is a rose, what is a hybrid D, cross breeding any type of breeding is, the hand of man, has gone into it, err, why are we, as, as, we are, I mean, it is, not by, by, by chance, by accident, a lot of it is by design, of human beings


8.228.  EM: Though what was new about GM, was that the cross breeding wasnít just in, through plants, there were animals such as fish


8.229.  CL: Oh, the, the


8.230.  EM: Fish were used


8.231.  CL: The bloater was used, to, to, create the tomato,  umm, just about every tomato that comes out of, of, Spain, now, is the produce of, of, of a genetically modified materials, you see, thatís, that, it, itís died down, I mean the tomatoes that arrive are fresh, taste, not covered in disease, not all rotting, to your advantage and not mine


8.232.  EM: Though it is a different type of cross breading isnít it for, I mean, you say for centuries weíve been cross breeding, but this is cross breeding, using


8.233.  CL: Come back to my thing


8.234.  EM: Using non-plant


8.235.  CL: Put, put, put two, umm, plants down side by side, give them to the scientist, and say analyse them, show me what is in this, that is, detrimental to my health, and I wonít eat the bloody thing, as long as it isnít going to be detrimental to health, isnít life too short to worry about this, if itís not actually our concern, I mean there are scientists there, who far clever than even, dare I say it than you, umm, who tell us, that it is, it is safe, and youíve got to accept things are safe


8.236.  EM: And do we know that


8.237.  CL: We canít accept AK-47 in Birmingham are safe, umm, umm, you know, there are, bigger worries in this bloody world as far as Iím concerned, than whether GM is safe, lifeís too short, letís get on and enjoy it and eat and live, thank the almighty that there are foods there, for use to eat, and that weíve not in the Zimbabwe situation


8.238.  EM: Look at the time, okay, now, umm, do we want to, are you happy to continue a little bit more, howís your stomach 


8.239.  CL: I mean, if it keeps on, we, we, we almost had my lunch, yes, youíve missed your two oíclock bus


8.240.  EM: Iíve missed my two oíclock so itís going to be three oíclock or the two thirty seven


8.241.  CL: Two thirty seven where, yeah


8.242.  EM: Thatís the local one, yeah


8.243.  CL: Okay


8.244.  EM: But I donít mind if I get the three oíclock


8.245.  CL: Yeah


8.246.  EM: Umm, how, how much time


8.247.  CL: Another sandwich, quick


8.248.  EM: Okay, do you want


8.249.  CL: Quick, we eat the sandwich


8.250.  EM: Weíve had another break and Iím now go to ask Mr Lewis, what his opinion is, of organic farming


8.251.  CL: My opinion of organic farming in, it is, lovely, as far as it goes, umm, Iíve stated more than once today, that the world is over populated, with present modern science, hmm, hmm, that the worldís surface, could not, begin to feed the existing population, let alone the forecast population, for the year 2050, which I think, from memory is eighty million, umm, we live in a, a very, umm, balanced, umm, eco-structure, forests get rain, umm, if we cut down more forests to make more arable or pasture lands, umm, the world will land up like the Sahara Desert, umm, thousands of people and you mentioned Monsanto, have, have invested, and companies have invested, in techniques, which have aided, modern man to exist, umm, to go back to, umm, subsistence farming of organic methods, umm, just doesnít bear thinking about, err, weíve cut back in animal numbers, farm animal numbers, umm, the dairy heard in this countryís halved in the last ten years, we would need something like eight to ten times more dairy cattle, we would eight to ten times more umm, beef cattle, we would need twenty times more, umm, poultry, umm, in order to, umm, to keep the land on an equilibrium, to grow things organically, umm, weíve cut back as I said from thirteen to three men, if we started composting, I love composting in a garden situation, on an allotment size patch, which is enough vegetables to grow err, for my wife and I, umm, but weíve talking of the, millions of people who live in towns, who is going to do the composting for them, how are we going to be, how, I ask questions, how can this be done, we cannot think of it being, the be all and end all, no matter what the Soil Association says, Iím sure that they can do this at Highgrove, I know full well I canít do it here


8.252.  EM: Because


8.253.  CL: Itís a physical impossibility, I just canít do it, umm, because of the reasons Iíve stated, I mean, the, the soil structure will start deteriorating as soon as I donít use umm, artificial fertilizers, be they, umm, you, you can apply all sorts of trace elements and things, but you canít under the Soil Association, umm, the Soil Association that you can use as a, a, chemical for controlling umm yellow fly or green fly on your cabbage, that you can wash it with Potassium whatever it is, which is soft soap, umm, that is, is, is, is a natural killer, I mean you can use Bordeaux mixture, which is, is, err, they seem to have, fired the shots, umm, to suit themselves, umm, nobody has yet said, that Iíve seen, that organically grown vegetables are better, we know theyíre more expensive, but are they better nutritionally, it comes back to the same old thing, we are now, the average age, of whatever it is, has gone up by goodness knows whatever itís gone up by, but weíre all living longer, if we all had organic food, and organic food was as good, as, as, itís supposed to be, weíd all use, live, live, umm, seven or eight percent longer, which instead of the average age being seventy, itíd be seventy seven, do we really want an average age of population of seventy seven, I mean, itís, itís, this is, is to me itís crazy, organic, whole organic concept Iím afraid, makes me angry


8.254.  EM: When you say


8.255.  CL: Because it costs more


8.256.  EM: Do we all want an average age of seventy seven, youíd actually rather people


8.257.  CL: I mean, I canít see that, no, cause, I, I, I donít mean quite like that, Iím being fascias, umm, if we add on, the age of the population, we are adding more, a greater population, to in this country, an over populated island, the rest of the world is getting even more over populated, and somethingís got to go, something has got to give


8.258.  EM: One of the other farmers that Iíve interviewed, who wasnít and an organic farmer, umm, I just pass on this quote to see your reaction to it, I asked him, what do you think about organic and what do you think about GM, and he said, theyíre both fruit cakes


8.259.  CL: Fine, umm, I suppose you could argue they that they are both fruit cakes, umm, you can argue, people can argue that black is white, umm, he, I presume was a conventional farmer, using what we call conventional things, which was chemicals, sprays, etc, umm, I know that DDT has been found over the years to be, umm, detrimental to insect life, umm, but if it hadnít for umm, DDT, the fly, the tetse fly in Africa, would have reduced the population through malaria, by some fifty per cent, now, I can think of a lot of people, could argue that, malaria, if, was, would have been a dam good think in that case, but as human suffering, that went on through malaria, and having seen cattle in Africa, that have been done by the tetse fly and seen the areas where they used, and got rid of it by pyrethrum and modern drugs, the best know to man at the time, the difference is, and the quality of life, was so much better, is that wrong, is it right, I donít know, probably fruit and nut case, I donít know


8.260.  EM: Okay, Iím now going to move away from the GM and, and, the organic and just ask you, who do you think, has most control of farming today, do you think itís politicians, supermarkets, land owners


8.261.  CL: Who has the most control, I think they all contribute, they all contribute in one way or another and I donít think you can say that one, have, have got sole control over it, weíve all got control over our own destinies, one way and another, err, even in a semi-police state, we, we, we live in, therefore, agriculturally, umm, we must all have some say, I mean, there are fruit and nut cakes that want to getup at four oíclock in the morning and milk cows, three hundred and sixty four and a half days of the year, umm, for a loss, and thatís fine, err, I personally donít wish to do that, umm, I think they are fruit and nut case, but when thereís no milk about, and thereís a scarcity of milk, the price will go up, as in all things, when, when thereís a scarcity price goes up, the fact that weíve living in, in, a, a sea of plenty at the moment, we are, in this country in a sea of plenty, I think things will change, that will be partly the politicians, supermarketís might have the smiles wiped off their faces when, umm, the public, out there, havenít got the money to spend, on, food is always the first thing that goes, itís not the childrenís sweeties, and whatever, itís basic food that goes first, it always seems to be


8.262.  EM: You mentioned, you referred earlier to the monopoly that supermarkets have


8.263.  CL: Mm 


8.264.  EM: And you also referred, indirectly to this situation weíre in at the minute, where Sain, err, Safeway, various other supermarkets are bidding


8.265.  CL: Are bidding, yes


8.266.  EM: For Safeway, including Walmart, which owns ASDA, what is your opinion of that kind of monopoly of the market


8.267.  CL: Market forces will prevail wonít they, umm, if, if others can see a way of making a buck and, and taking some things away from them, they will, the umm, analogy I suppose is motor cars, umm, motorcar industry in this part of the world was, was, went on at Cowley, and at, err, umm, they werenít good enough, they were as equivalent to a supermarket, producing motor cars, umm, they werenít good enough, people went else where, others soon moved in, looks whatís happened


8.268.  EM: When youíve commented on supermarkets earlier, you, you said that you, yourself find them hellish place to be, umm, but you can see, understand their convenience, where does that leave you about local shops that have had to close because of supermarkets


8.269.  CL: This is one of the natural, this is, is, is one of the natural sort of evolutions of man isnít it, umm, itís the natural evolution of the spices, umm, the strong get strong and the weak get weaker, umm, but ask me whether I feel the Roman Empire should have continued, the Roman Empire collapsed, umm, the supermarkets, if they get too big, and they get too cocky, people will start finding alternatives, if they get sloppy, if they get whatever, I mean, I just donít know what percentage of the food goes down my throat comes out of a supermarket, but I suppose itís probably as much as the next persons, and umm, if it wasnít any good, my wife wouldnít continually go back there, umm, but when she tells me to go to, A or B or C supermarket outside the thing, I find a dam good excuse to say Iím feeling frightfully ill or Iíve got something else to do, because I physically donít like going and I donít know where everything is on the shelves, I canít find it, I love the old fashioned idea of a grocers shop where youíre known when you walk in, and the man with a, with a, umm, a stripy apron, umm, who greets you, umm, and, and, you say, well I want a nice bit of cheese, what have you got, arrgh he says, I remember you like so and so, and produces a lovely bit of cheese for you, or whatever, of course oneís going to pay for that service, in the same way as you do for going to a bespoke tailor as oppose to getting something off, umm, off the shelf


8.270.  EM: Do you think of your business as successful


8.271.  CL: At the moment, no I donít, I donít thing it is successful, but umm, I canít see quite what one can do to make it more successful, umm, but I have high hopes, that things are going to get better, I mean weíre importing so much wheat from, from, umm, the Black Sea, weíre importing so much meat from, from foreign parts, umm, we are, umm, weíre being driven down hill, umm, the pound is, is, umm, at an artificial level, umm, it, it isnít that the things are not of our making, weíre almost back to where we came in


8.272.  EM: And would you, itís okay, itís okay, weíre alright for time, Iíve got my two last questions, itís quarter to


8.273.  CL: Youíve got to take, ten minutes at least, twelve minutes to get back, three oíclock bus


8.274.  EM: Okay, so Iíve got


8.275.  CL: Itís here, the bus is here


8.276.  EM: No this oneís the way you picked me up


8.277.  CL: Yup, yup


8.278.  EM: So Iíve got two last questions


8.279.  CL: Yes


8.280.  EM: And then weíre done


8.281.  CL: Youíre going to miss it,  yes


8.282.  EM: Ha, ha, second to last question is, what would you recommend, would you recommend someone to go into, letís say, you had a son who wanted to go into farming, would you recommend it to him now


8.283.  CL: Put it another way, I have, Nicholas is here, umm


8.284.  EM: Is that your step son by the way


8.285.  CL: Heís my step son, umm, but itís the same thing, umm, he, umm, heís here, heís very much part of the furniture and umm, if it hadnít been for him, I honestly think, I would have sold up and gone, umm, because, there are easier ways of making a fool of oneís self than trying to make a living in this, because whatever I got for this etcetera and invested it elsewhere, Iíd be able to live better than, umm, or show a better return than, than itís doing now, next last question


8.286.  EM: Ha, ha, and the last question, which I do you want to answer with some, without speed, with some kind of consideration, donít worry about my bus, do you feel that you have been a custodian of the land during your time on this farm


8.287.  CL: Umm, Iím not a religious man, umm, I have no faith, and somebody once asked me, umm, in the heat of the moment I answered, umm, what are you in this world for, and I said Iíd like to think, this was many years ago, and Iíve, Iíve remembered it, before I realised what I said, and my words were, I wish to leave the world a better place than I found it, umm, and I think in many ways, I have, we are leaving the world in a better place than, than, than when I, when I was born, it is inherently better, for, for a great number of people, not everybody


8.288.  EM: What about the farms


8.289.  CL: Umm, I think Farming wise, Iíve, Iíve maintained the same philosophy, I think the land is in better heart, itís better drained, umm, itís growing more, itís more productive, than it was, when I came here, and each of the farms that Iíve taken, are better than they were, theyíre reverting back fast now, because thereís no money to reinvest, to maintain buildings as they should be maintained, to maintain, keeping the, the paint work up together, to keep the roofs on, umm, to maintain the land drainage, which costs an enormous amount of money, to maintain the roads, to maintain the infrastructure of the fences and the, the hedges, it is going down hill, and I think, this is, as Iíve said, is something the Government has got to look at, because one canít fight this battle alone, and Iím very worried about the future of England, of England PLC, and that includes, agricultural England, leave out the crime and all the rest of it, but Iím very worried about, about, about which way England is going


8.290.  EM: Thank-you very much


8.291.  CL: Goodbye


8.292.  EM: Christoper Lewis, here ends the interview with Christopher Lewis, ha, ha, okay

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