I wonder how many people in this edition will mention the phenomenon that is Jeremy Clarkson going farming?
For those who don’t watch Amazon Prime, it is worth the subscription, in my opinion. It has the potential to do more to share the realities of farming than Countryfile has achieved in the past decade. From the outstanding people he has brought together to help him learn, to the harsh reality of the economics of trying to manage sheep, it has a great blend of humour and a typical Clarkson approach to enormous toys (cue the purchase of an unnecessarily large Lamborghini tractor) but also includes a wake-up call about the realities of lost revenue if you don’t do the job properly.
In the first episode there was a great introduction to the realities of the reduction in actives and the impact on crop production. The incredulity that a whole field could be lost because of a pest for which there was no control will have been news to many watching at home.
Who would have thought that Mr Clarkson would become an ally of agriculture? Interestingly, while the critics condemned him for having contempt for farming, I think he showed the reality of people’s presumption that growing food is easy and that farmers are greedy while also highlighting the fact that big tractors aren’t always the best.
On Saturday 12 June I spoke at the British part of a Commonwealth Women in Enterprise Conference, a new experience for me and one that I hope to repeat. I was a little nervous, I have to confess. I did fear that there was the potential for a riot of feminist tropes, but instead the speakers were carefully clustered around some excellent, business-related themes.
I was part of a session that focused on women in non-traditional roles and took part in a plenary session that worked around the needs of any aspiring individual in pretty much any sector. Unsurprisingly there was a stark difference between the advice from older gentlemen and that of younger women. The top ‘take homes’ from the session were:
- Great advice legally and financially is essential for any start
- The glass ceiling is more likely to be in your head than in reality these days.
- People will remember how you made them feel longer than they will remember your performance.
- Negotiation skills are always needed and require professional training.
But… the gender pay gap will take 25 years to close at the current rate. The UK is also 39th in the world for gender balance politically and in the business world at senior level. I think we need to publicise the role of women in food and farming; we would stand out head and shoulders above many sectors of industry and production.
You only have to look at Christine Tacon’s Women in Food and Farming group to see the equality and performance of outstanding people in our sector.