Thursday, 3 May 2012

Today ended with a big surprise when checking in to our hotel and finding the bar populated by buff men wearing pants but little else. All the more unexpected as we are staying in a town which could double for the one in ‘Hot Fuzz’ though, hopefully, with fewer firearms.

This week’s film contrasts the growing appetite for people to get into farming with the increasing difficulty in actually doing it. Land prices have more than doubled in the last five years as rising food demand looks a good bet but, perhaps more importantly, big money is looking for a safe haven. As an investment, land is quite literally the new gold: putting it further from the reach of aspiring farmers and into the grasp of pension funds and oligarchs.
Meanwhile, agricultural colleges are seeing applications boom but Rachel, who we met at Harper Adams, is typical of her classmates in not finding a job on a British farm: she is going all the way to New Zealand to raise calves. Buying farms outright was always tricky for new entrants and young blood often flowed towards county farms, land owned and let by local authorities. But many of these are being flogged off too as cash strapped councils need the money for services. Tomorrow we’ll meet a council tenant farmer whose land is being sold beneath him.

Down at the front desk, hasty enquiries revealed sporting your smalls was not dress code but part of a local fashion show fundraiser for breast cancer care. No Countryfile team members were tempted onto the catwalk.

CountryFile Sunday evening 20 May BBC 1

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