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Been a while since I had a rant....Farmings next generation? …bitterly disappointed….

Farmer Mon
02 April 2017 21:05

Farmings next generation? ………bitterly disappointed….

Its been a while since I felt the need to have a rant, an event we catered earlier this weekend disappointed me at the time and 48hrs later I’m still grumpy…

 Happy Herefords caters for many different types of events from full blown festivals lasting several days and involving 24hr trading to agricultural shows, carnivals, garden shows, street food markets, sporting, corporate events and private parties. Over the years – 9 to be precise – we’ve got to meet many different people – an aspect of the job we truly love.

This weekend we mobilised our Pods on what was a very last minute catering request by this I mean  –  job confirmed at 16.45 member of staff on a train out of London and collected from MK central by 18.18, bread rolls acquired by 19.05 and on site setting up by 19.47 – we aint on the #NCASS #emergencycaterers list for nothing!

The event? 200+ young farmers having a ‘springfling’ ie beer & music in a barn on a farm in the middle of nowhere – nothing unusual there we’ve done it before! Assured by the poor organiser that they would definitely be hungry – hence the additional member of staff….

It wasn’t the fact that they only managed to consume 41 buns (ie burgers/sausages) that irked me – you win some you lose some… but the attitude of what is supposedly the next generation of Britain's farmers – a generation who we are all being encouraged to support, to help get on the ladder, to encourage every step of the way, - hell there’s even additional support for them in the –soon to be gone- EU subsidy payment scheme.

Put quite simply – the little s**ts just didn’t / or weren’t prepared to pay…. An honest price for an honest product produced by one of their own…. Yes – I am a FIRST GENERATION FARMER & a CATERER. Birth to Bun …. The real f****kg deal sunshines.

I am well known (& often I will admit ‘shunned’) by the catering elite for my inclusive pricing policy which is stated in my procurement statement  as follows: I aim to deliver real value for money, as the owner of Happy Herefords I insist on a level of equal inclusivity, this means that my basic burger is priced at a level of affordability that allows all sectors of society to benefit from eating quality home & hand produced burgers from beef that has a truly 100% traceable source. Extras on the menu allow those that can and wish to ‘glamp’ up their burger to do so, and on this basis we thoroughly recommend trying our ‘fully loaded burger’! 

So, to be confronted by a bunch of pissed up young farmers who’ve arrived to the party in Landrovers & Utility pickups that I can only dream of owning to be asked – ‘what can I get for £1.39???’ ‘ £4 for a sausage – I’m going home’  ….. yes I am bitterly disappointed. Disappointed that an attitude that is more oft than not seen/experienced at many agricultural events is not dying – its still there….

This, on the back of catering at a local event at a university well known for its sporting syllabus – where the majority of students – yes the same age as these young farmers- were happy to pay £4 for a sausage, £4 for a cheeseburger… were happy to know that the burgers were from our own cows less than 10 miles down the road, encouraged their fellow students to eat with us…

I see this time and time again .. as a first generation farmer/caterer I get more respect for what myself & my team do, the effort we put in from our non farming customers, and a very big thank you to them – we love you and we love that you seek us out and come back to us year after year but to the farming community -  This is so f*****g wrong.

So herewith I attempt to place a positive spin on my disappointment ….

This is a big plea to all agricultural/farming youth groups and educational establishments  - please please please try to educate the incoming farming generation about the true cost of food production. It doesn’t stop at the farm gate. There are valid reasons why food costs what it does, and there are very valid reasons why the cost should go up – and no Brexit is not one of them.

Yes, I know the lwt finished values are currently anywhere btn 1.90-2.20/kg and £3.50 for a burger appears to be a ‘rip off’ but, and here I put out for the processor – because in my business I am that too- consider the on costs once the beast leaves the market ring? Transport, lairage, killing out%, 5th quarter, bone, hanging/ageing at every one of these points the processor is losing weight…

So your £2kg/lwt can easily turn into £4-6+/kg boned out carcass weight, even with the best will in the world only a small proportion of that will be your prime cuts (fillet rib sirloin rump) the rest- and lets face it – ends up as mince, in burgers, or sausages….. 

Then after all that there’s the additional cost of making it into burgers, of financing the cooking equipment, the staff, the vehicles, insurance, rents etc etc yes young farmers all aspects of the food industry have overheads too – they don’t stop at the farm gate. Oh, and all those VAT exempt supplies you benefit from selling? Yeah well 60p out of every £3.50 burger goes to the VAT man – now go back and do your sums…

Multiple retailers benefit from economies of scale  (but their lower carcass weight spec hits them on the bone waste) smaller outfits don’t have that luxury – though they will probably be able to tell you what cow it was – truth be known non farming folk will and do appreciate this, in my experience farming folk don’t give a s**t

This is why I am so bitterly disappointed and embarrassed to call myself a farmer after this weekend.