A bumper edition of Farmers Weekly charting changes in agriculture – and forecasting its future – has been published as part of the magazine’s eightieth anniversary celebrations.
The 52-page special wrapped around the regular October 17 issue contains a number of contributions from Guild members reviewing agricultural history over the past 80 years, speculation as to future farming technology, livestock production and food consumption trends, as well as some light-hearted anecdotes from staff writers and members of the advertisement sales team.
“I picked up this special 80th birthday issue of Farmers Weekly and what a joy it was to read,” says Guild chairman Jane Craigie. “The farming history that Farmers Weekly has captured so ably over the decades is testament to the enduring quality of the journalists employed by the title and their reach into the heart of farming.
“The majority of these journalists have been members of the British Guild of Agricultural Journalists and in the Guild’s 70th year – our Platinum Jubilee – it is so heart warming to see both stalwarts of our vibrant farming media sector having blossomed with the times; and also to see them in such fine fettle three generations on.”
An 80 year celebration section of the FWi website also records the changes, from the time when Farmers Weekly was first published in June 1934 when more than a million people worked on the land, through the demands of the Second World War, the rise of big business – and a major Foot & Mouth disease outbreak – in the 1960s, through the ‘European Adventure’ of the 1970s to the issues we are all familiar with today.
In her editorial, Guild member and Farmers Weekly editor Jane King advises farmers to “hang on to your hats” as she predicts the evolution of agriculture over the next 30 years “on a scale like never before”.
“While the short-term scenario is not great, with huge falls in commodity prices, the long-term prospects for UK farmers remains remarkably good,” writes Jane. “The Farmers Weekly team hopes the anniversary supplement provides some useful insights into what’s coming down the track.”
Guild members Tim Relf, Farmlife editor; David Cousins, machinery editor; freelancers Caroline Stocks and Ben Pike; and business reporter Jez Fredenburgh, together with industry contributors cover the major sectors and issues.
But while the serious stuff will interest and fascinate, the anecdotes from Guild members will bring a smile: David Cousins getting lost with a tractor and plough in a rural town in Germany; livestock reporter Rhian Price’s faux pas ordering beef rather than pork at a pig breeders’ dinner; and Poultry World‘s Jake Davies’ bafflement at a week-long conference in Brazil when simultaneous translation ended after the first morning and all subsequent sessions were in Portuguese alone.
The one that most conjurs up an image of discomfort, though, is surely Tim Relf’s account of he and photographer (Guild member Jonathan Page, we can reveal) being pursuaded by a Swedish farmer to enjoy a traditional sauna while staying in a farm lodge.
“He was insistent that we had the ‘authentic’ experience. Which meant we had no towels (even to protect our modesty) and jumping into a tub of ice-cold water immediately afterwards,” Tim recalls. “Myself and the photographer saw rather more of each other on that trip than is perhaps ideal for two work colleagues.”