James Rebanks on Radio 4 this morning

Bill the Bass

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Cumbria
but how many others in the Lake District have a camping barn or do B&B and in all fairness to him, he did go to Oxford to do a degree, I know I couldn't!
Absolutely, if you take away AE payments, BPS and holiday cottages/camping there would be precisely 0 farms in the Lake District (and most of the north of England) surviving on Sheep and Cows alone.
 

delilah

Member
The solutions are con

The solutions won't get publicity because, generally they involve spending less money on inputs and expensive "modern" techniques.

There was touched on the negative effects of N fert preventing soil synthesising its own from the atmosphere; the effect of insecticides on the natural balance in the soil moderating pest numbers and the unseen harm of feeding grazing animals rainforest products like soya and palm kernel.

It's worth a listen. A persistent message that comes from all these farmers who tried something new, none of whom had any idea whether it would work or not, is that it's worth a try.

These solutions, I wasn't asking whether the dreaded BBC were giving them any publicity, rather I was asking what James says that they are. Because I have read both books and whilst a great read don't offer m/any solutions to the problems he highlights.
edit: and if he had a pop at feeding soya meal then that's just another reason I won't listen, have got no interest in farmers engaging in their favourite past time of slagging off fellow farmers.
 

Humble Village Farmer

Member
BASE UK Member
These solutions, I wasn't asking whether the dreaded BBC were giving them any publicity, rather I was asking what James says that they are. Because I have read both books and whilst a great read don't offer m/any solutions to the problems he highlights.
You'll have to listen to the programme to get all the detail. I have read both books and I was struck by his change of tone and attitude in the 2nd one.
 

delilah

Member
I am sure if a solution was simple it would have been achieved by now, sadly it’s not.

There isn't, presumably, 'a solution'. Rather, lots of measures that would produce positive change for the industry. James must have suggestions as to what some of these solutions are ? He's clearly a clever bloke. He has had two books and several articles and media appearances to explore them, yet I must have missed those bits.
 
I don't like folk pontificating when they basically say: 'you are all doing it wrong!'

To which the natural response is: 'okay, so are you doing then?'

To which the response is something like: 'well, I took my 2000 acre arable farm, stopped farming it and rewilded it whilst continuing to pocket the BPS money and so I believe it has been a great success'.


This is akin to me saying I once owned a snooker table but turns out I couldn't make a living from snooker so I instead loaned the table to the local club for girls to table dance upon whilst wearing not a lot.
 

delilah

Member
Iirc more local food systems

I think there was a line, it may even have been two lines, in the second book saying that that would be 'nice'. I was desperately hoping he was about to go beyond saying that it would be nice and suggest how it would be achieved. Maybe I expect too much.
 

Humble Village Farmer

Member
BASE UK Member
yep, he does seem to like to stick the knife in to fellow producers who do things differently, without saying how his transition would be achieved or what benefits it would bring.
Feeding cereals to ruminants is a good way of keeping the machinery, fertiliser, chemical and feed merchants in business, as well as people like the plant breeders. All of whom require fossil fuels for their business model and most of them help create the conditions for loss of soil organic matter and soil erosion. Compare that to your zero input pp situation which takes carbon and nitrogen out of the air and you start to see that different systems have different environmental impacts.

I think he goes out of his way to avoid criticism of farmers, apart from himself. I'm fairly clear on how "his" transition would be achieved and what benefits it would bring. It does require a certain level of flexible thinking and adaptability.
 
Ok so I’d probably better qualify my earlier point a bit ....

Ive been involved in / on a regenerative agricultural journey since 2015. In fact for a lot of that time I have been balls deep in regen ag, learning at the deep end on a big scale .... whilst still being expected to make a profit.

Ignoring some of the extremities of the approach I think it is THE way forward, it is how we can farm successfully and environmentally sustainably.

To me it seems we have two options - we either get regen ag or we get rewilding and the latter for the main part is an ill thought through joke which is built around a lack of basic knowledge and lots of virtue signalling.

However what I struggle with is this - James Rebanks and a whole raft of others are always proposing this small scale pastoral dream. They are good and kind farmers with a small number of herdwicks, couple of bellies. They drive a quad, buy in silage and cake, wear woollen jumpers and talk about community. It’s a nice but somewhat flawed image. It’s produces enough food to feed a small number of people. Maybe. Now stick them next to 5000 lambs behind electric on roots, or several hundred cattle grazing lines of bales on a grass farm in winter and its always the same - small is good, but big is bad. In reality if you broke it down it’s not really true .......

Its just like the idea of provenance and taste - you can go to a local butcher here and buy lamb and tell everyone how much better it is to support local farmers and buy high welfare grass fed lamb .... much better than anything from the supermarket. In reality it’s the same lamb.

Just like you can buy a herd wick lamb in a box from a fell farm that was finished with a trough ...... but that’s going to apparently be better than the same herdwick lamb which had come down to me and gone into a night mixed herbal lay or cover crop on a regenerative arable farm to finish .........
 
Ok so I’d probably better qualify my earlier point a bit ....

Ive been involved in / on a regenerative agricultural journey since 2015. In fact for a lot of that time I have been balls deep in regen ag, learning at the deep end on a big scale .... whilst still being expected to make a profit.

Ignoring some of the extremities of the approach I think it is THE way forward, it is how we can farm successfully and environmentally sustainably.

To me it seems we have two options - we either get regen ag or we get rewilding and the latter for the main part is an ill thought through joke which is built around a lack of basic knowledge and lots of virtue signalling.

However what I struggle with is this - James Rebanks and a whole raft of others are always proposing this small scale pastoral dream. They are good and kind farmers with a small number of herdwicks, couple of bellies. They drive a quad, buy in silage and cake, wear woollen jumpers and talk about community. It’s a nice but somewhat flawed image. It’s produces enough food to feed a small number of people. Maybe. Now stick them next to 5000 lambs behind electric on roots, or several hundred cattle grazing lines of bales on a grass farm in winter and its always the same - small is good, but big is bad. In reality if you broke it down it’s not really true .......

Its just like the idea of provenance and taste - you can go to a local butcher here and buy lamb and tell everyone how much better it is to support local farmers and buy high welfare grass fed lamb .... much better than anything from the supermarket. In reality it’s the same lamb.

Just like you can buy a herd wick lamb in a box from a fell farm that was finished with a trough ...... but that’s going to apparently be better than the same herdwick lamb which had come down to me and gone into a night mixed herbal lay or cover crop on a regenerative arable farm to finish .........
I agree with you, but I think you are being a bit hard on the man
 
I agree with you, but I think you are being a bit hard on the man
I’m probably being a bit hard .... you’re right. But it’s highly frustrating when folk raise themselves up by pushing others down. It’s great that a man who’s made a bunch of money writing books, owns a farm and when he’s not away from it enjoys some sheep and a couple of cows. But it’s a totally different world than actually food production to address feeding large numbers of folk with sustainable protein that comes from and animal and from grass.
ps I actually like James he’s a nice guy
 

CHAP Webinar - Innovative tools to overcome the challenges of Regen Ag

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Applying principles of regen ag can incur a range of on-farm challenges. Learn how innovative tools & machinery can help with these hurdles.

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