Sir, – In Richard Wright’s Euro Notebook in last week’s edition of the SF, he wrote: 'They [farmers] are also proud of creating the countryside and delivering for the environment, but as a by-product of food production'.

I’m not sure I can be universally proud of the industry. Certainly, seeing brown rivers, green monoculture deserts and potato fields running onto roads, I do wonder how we can continue to be proud of the status quo.

For sure, there are exceptions at both ends of the scale but, in the main, the environment is simply collapsing around us and we have the mud on our hands.

It can be argued that we farmers have been unwillingly pushed into this corner of needing scale, devastating chemicals and some luck to stumble over our costs of production, which have been driven to the bone. Whether this is true, or not is immaterial.

The current system of financial profit at any cost is simply not sustainable. Food transport around the UK accounts for 20% of all lorry traffic – who is paying for all of those miles?

We need a concurrent top down and bottom up approach to dismantling the centralised and monopolistic post farm food systems and focus on encouraging genuine local spend. Grumbling about becoming ‘park keepers’, or the government’s allocation of undeserved funding will do nothing to fix the systemic problems.

Ministerial leadership beyond ‘look how big a cheque I’ve managed to get you this year’, together with industry-wide collaboration, is what’s required.

Time is very fast running out.

Henry Cheape


St Andrews.