Britain wastes more food than any other country in Europe...

WITH the promise of rain fading, the intense heat is now beginning to burn our grassland to a crisp. Wherever the cattle or young-stock have grazed, it just burns up, and Tillington in particular is beginning to look as if we are operating a 'scorched earth policy'.

It is little better at Crouchlands, although it is at least managing to stay green. If the rain forecasted towards the end of this week does not materialise, we are in trouble.

The maize on the other hand is enjoying this weather and the earlier drilled crops are waist high, but would also benefit from a good drink.

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Wimbledon has escaped without more than a few drops of rain one evening, which is unusual.

I certainly did not envy those who compete in this heat, although they are of course well used to it. I must confess to having not watched any tennis or football this summer, I understand that I have not missed much as far as the football is concerned.

The tennis also (according to the papers) was not as dramatic as it has been, with a fairly straight forward victory for both champions at Wimbledon.

n I was pleased to see that Brussels has seen sense on rodent control measures, as one of the recent proposals going through the Environment Committee, could have meant the loss of 95 per cent of vermin control products from the market.

Thankfully, common sense prevailed with some lobbying from the NFU amongst others, and we will now keep the key rodenticides, where no other alternative method of control are available, and public health would otherwise be at risk. Parliament will finally decide later this year.

I was privileged to attend the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, last week, for its annual general meeting and presentations of awards.

The new president is Peter Jinman OBE from the Welsh borders, who is a very well known veterinary amongst farmers, and he made several telling comments about the state of the world we live in, where the ex rock star Brian May (of Queen), commands more column inches about bovine TB, than the Chief Veterinary Officer in Wales, where a crucial court battle is taking place between those who see badger control as part of the answer to bTB, and those who clearly do not.

The presentations were followed by an address by Professor Roger Short, who has been situated at the University of Melbourn for many years.

He was certainly different, and I for one did not expect a lecture on people from a vet.

He made the point, however, that vets can think laterally, whereas the medical profession cannot. Vets can see the animal in man, whereas the doctors cannot.

He cited that the World Wildlife Trust was founded to save endangered species, but had not saved one from extinction, whereas if the same amount of money and effort had been invested in birth control, they would have saved many.

By 2030 (he said) the world will have 8 billion people; the anthropocene age, where every living organism will be dependant on our activity. At the beginning of the industrial revolution in this country in the early 1800s, there were 1 billion people in the world.

By 1920 (after the Great War), there were 2 billion; today there are 6.8 billion and by 2050, there will be 9.1 billion. He stated that a revolution will be needed to feed 9 billion people, inviting us to read Isaiah 40 verse 6 'All flesh is grass'.

Ruminants are hopelessly inefficient, he said, and contribute vastly to the global warming of our planet (I looked around to see if I was the only one feeling distinctly uncomfortable at this point), and 9 billion people can only be fed from 'grass factories', turning grass by biological process into edible 'flesh' for humans, commented Professor Roger Short.

I comforted myself that if I was out of a job as a farmer, then so were all these vets sitting all around me!

Then, a complete switch; how do we reduce the world's population from the projected 9 billion?

By granting women freedom from the tyranny of excessive fertility! Professor Short went on to show the results from a very long running (50 years) and huge trial in Scotland, showing very clear evidence that the 'pill' is hugely beneficial to women's health overall.

He closed with the remarks that for every 15 invested in wind power, it takes 31 in solar power, and a massive 56 in hybrid vehicle technology, but only 4 invested in the 'pill' would have the same effect overall in saving the planet.

It should be freely available at the cost of production, he claimed, but acknowledged that the opposition was a formidable collection of powerful people.

Pharmaceutical Companies would face loss of profit, Doctors and the medical profession would face loss of control, and the church?

Well the church just would not understand. On that note I thought it incredible that I would see farming continue due to the influence of the church.

The seriousness of the subject was certainly well made, and the point that 'Veterinary's can think laterally' also driven home, and a simple, eloquent solution that stands little chance of success without the revolution mentioned at the beginning of the lecture.

I then crossed Westminster square and went into Defra to talk about farming and how we minimise its effects on climate change.

No, I resisted the temptation! But the morning's experience certainly fired me up, and I wanted to know if Defra and the Government are really serious about tackling this problem, and if they are, we need to talk about food waste, regulation, and lack of skill and knowledge generally.

Up to 40 per cent of food is wasted from grass to the household dustbin.

We waste more food than any other country in Europe, and that is a disgrace. Regulation on the farm, in the processing industry, supermarkets demands for uniformity, sell-by dates coupled with the lack of knowledge in the home (how food should not be thrown away before or sometimes even after sell by dates) on how to use all of the food bought, and not just bits of it, and how to not throw away so much with impunity.

Food needs to be valued, and those who think that selling 120 per cent of what the consumer needs 'is good business', need to think again.

The farmer pays dearly, as the 120 per cent is expected to be provided for the same money as 100 per cent, and the planet suffers as a direct consequences.

This brings me to the next point, if we are to really lower emissions from agriculture and assist in the quest to move away from an oil based world economy, then we need to maximize production per hectare, in order to release available land for energy production.

This will take us some of the way to solving the problem, but

I do agree that it will be a transition through which we move to very different forms of food and energy production for the future.