Jeremy Clarkson's contribution to farming is worth Diddly Squat - Andrew Arbuckle

Does Jeremy Clarkson merit an award for his ‘contirbution to farming’?Does Jeremy Clarkson merit an award for his ‘contirbution to farming’?
Does Jeremy Clarkson merit an award for his ‘contirbution to farming’?
You recognise the scene. Stretching out to the far horizon, the large room is filled with a sea of round tables. Each table is laden to the gunnels with wine glasses completed with glitzy balloons adding to the atmosphere.

Yes, we are now in the awards season and since farming has adopted this Hollywood confection, we have awards for categories ranging from Beef Farmer of the Year to Agricultural Contractor for the same 12 months.

Not that I am knocking this development. Farmers and farming deserve a big glitzy night out as much as anyone. A night to brush off the mothballs, squeeze into the Sunday best clothes, dispel the lingering smell of pigs and try to hide the welly marks on the legs.

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The formula for these events is straightforward, with the award winners making an attempt to look surprised as they step up to collect their arty shaped piece of engraved glass.

The evening usually comes to a close with a “lifetime” award but last month, one of the farming ceremonies culminated with an award for the winner’s “contribution to farming”.

Step up to the stage, Jeremy Clarkson.

For those not up to speed on Mr Clarkson’s activities, some ten years ago or so, he bought a 1,000-plus acre farm on the outskirts of Chipping Norton. He calls the farm Diddly Squat as that is what he expects to make from his investment.

The message from this is not good. If a farmer cannot make a living from a 1,000-acre unit then you are not much cop at farming.

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This brings Clarkson’s TV programme into focus as much of it is based on his seeming inability to do everyday tasks such as ploughing or even handling sheep. This raises the question as to why Clarkson is to be rewarded for his contribution to farming.

In an attempt to diversify and increase the income on Diddly Squat, he decided to set up a farm shop. This path, as everyone who has trodden a similar route, is heavily surrounded by bureaucracy which is ideally suited to Clarkson, armed as he is with a verbal machete to cut through the paperwork.

Those who watch his performance or read his words knows that he blusters and verbally bullies those who stand in his path. Inevitably, the officials having to deal with his business intentions are belittled.

Suffice to say, his style is that of a bull in the proverbial china shop and while this seems to strike a chord with some on social media, it is debatable whether this is a good image for farming.

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It is possible that the organisers behind the awards ceremony wanted a “name” for their top award and in Clarkson they hit gold. He has given them publicity just as hordes of people pitch up at his farm shop.

Yes, he did get planning permission. There, visitors can buy expensive honey or milk from a neighbouring farm but many appear to come just to see Jeremy’s jowly face. Such is the adulation for this loudmouth that people are reported to wait up to three hours just to see him.

Is he the best advert for the industry? Why not some other star from the small screen such as Amanda Owen who can be seen traipsing the Yorkshire hills with her brood of children while dealing with some of the less attractive parts of hill sheep farming?

Another high-profile contender might be Adam Henson who with ancestors in the entertainment world smiles through everything although, so far, nobody has seen how he manages to keep all his machinery in a sparklingly new condition.

My own strong contender for the award would be Minette Batters, who is president of the English NFU. This preference has nothing to do with her gender. It has everything to do with her steering the union through some decidedly choppy waters in these post Brexit times.

She has raised the profile of the union to the point where she can pop up on mainstream programmes as diverse as Andrew Marr’s Sunday morning slot to Desert Island Discs.

In the coming months when the Basic Payment support scheme is whittled down in England, she will need all her diplomatic skills to keep the union membership on board.

The irony in Clarkson getting the award was it was presented to him by Batters. It might have been more appropriate the other way around.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

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