Farming Hall of Fame

28.03.13 Farming Hall of Fame

We launched the Farming Hall of Fame on 28th March 2013 to mark our 1 year anniversary of live chats. Nominations were invited as to who would be a good addition to the Hall of Fame, and from these a shortlist of 5 for the categories of historic (pre-1945) and modern day (1945 to present) were chosen.

The winners were voted for via a poll on the AgriChatUK website and the first 2 inductees are Harry Ferguson for the historic era and Tom Robinson, from Syngenta, for the modern day era.

The discussion held on Thursday 28th March 2013 looked at the topic of “Farming Hall of Fame” and generated a total of 535 tweets on the topic from 105 participants. These included farmers, agri-food businesses, rural advisors, land agents, lawyers, journalists, academics and NFU officeholders, as well as members of the general public.

Q1 What makes someone worthy for inclusion into the Farming Hall of Fame? Remember there are 2 categories, modern era & historic – modern era classified as 1945 onwards and historic is everything before. So there’s plenty of scope for inclusion!

  • Lasting impact to this day (historic category)
  • Someone who has really shown guts and determination and never given up always believed they could do it
  • Is able to cut through the Red Tape and politics and still get results (Modern)
  • For historic, some kind of pioneer possibly? And modern, someone who is supporting the future of agriculture thru diff means
  • A lasting impact (from either category)
  • Someone not afraid to speak out and speak the truth.
  • Someone who has invented something that has changed the face of agriculture?
  • What makes for a worthy inclusion? The ability to engage with and reach a diverse audience – tell the story of farming?
  • Someone who can walk the walk & talk the talk. 2 many gentlemen farmers out there who never got their hands dirty
  • Someone who goes the extra mile by helping others in ag, being innovative or challenging the status quo &moving things along
  • Someone who inspires you to be a farmer, to whom you can relate and think argh that silly bugger goes through what I do too
  • The ability to not just make change happen, but to inspire others to keep on making the change happen again & again & again
  • Someone who has given time to help the next generation on future farmers develop and grow and not given up
  • Most important skills? The ability to lead and then communicate
  • Someone who is truly passionate in the agricultural industry and has achieved something as a result of it!
  • Someone passionate who inspires younger people to go into farming and makes the profession fresh and appealing
  • Someone who sees challenges as opportunities and translates a vision into reality
  • Innovators, people prepared to challenge conventional ways, original leaders against bullies
  • Someone who speaks up on behalf of farmers and not afraid to do so
  • A person who has forged a path that may be unconventional at the time but stands the test of time!

Q2 What farming technique, bit of kit, or technology has had the biggest effect in your lifetime?

  • The obvious answer is the smartphone but in all honesty it’s probably the PC
  • Tech mainly but it’s the traditional stuff that’s made the most impact to me more hands on and learn more from it
  • I’m tempted to say, the Swan Vesta approach to straw and stubble management.
  • Sheep handling systems making it easier to trim feet, inject, dose etc more expense but more time efficient
  • Round Up was the turning point for couch control for us in many crops, plus surfactants to make it affordable
  • The upsurge in appreciation for and development of the clover plant
  • The advent of rubber tracks for crawlers, although the true purist still prefers steel!
  • For the livestock industry EBVs
  • Good old crop rotation.
  • You’ve got to go back a long way, so many ‘New’ things in farming are re-inventions
  • The one thing that must take the crown for best farm machine ever invented is the combine harvester
  • Larger workrates and less staff
  • Harry Ferguson + the 3 point linkage.
  • I want to say GPS technology, as in my rather short lifetime that’s been the biggest leap forward in farming
  • The wide spread acceptance of 4 wheel drive tractors over 2 wheel drive ones
  • Computer technology is probably the greatest innovation and that’s evolving as we speak
  • The Quad bike but not the 3 wheeled death trap!
  • Got to be bulk bags and forklift instead of cwt bags
  • The reversible plough.. must come in this group
  • Satellite Guidance is gonna have a big effect. Automatous machinery is becoming a true reality

Q3 Looking at historic milestones in agriculture, what and more importantly who stands out for you as shaping the industry we are in now?

  • How they always coped through everything and showed the passion and never gave up everyone cared about farming
  • Milestones for farming the invention of the threshing machine, tractor, mobile phone, 4×4 and the internet
  • I started accounts with a Commodore 64 and 5inch floppy discs – painful
  • On the livestock side, I would say the first differentiation of individual breeds back in the 1800’s
  • Unchecked rise of big retailers & political blind eye to their abuse of suppliers
  • What about plastic..? For bale wrap, sacks, for instruments, almost everything…
  • Early wheat cultivation and the domestication of sheep, goats and cows in the Middle East
  • Cattle crushes have come a long way, but I still think they could be better for man and beast!
  • Has to be John Fowler and Jethro Tull! Steam driven plough and the seed drill!
  • Artificial Insemination and latterly Embryo Transfer
  • The creation of the Common Agricultural Policy has to rate pretty highly as a milestone
  • Henry plumb is in my mind a great man or the industry and a supporter for the next generation of agriculture a finest
  • In relatively recent times, Franz Fischler. Politics= huge influence on farming, not all technology, unfortunately
  • CAP has shaped our industry – but where would we be if it was never introduced across Europe – better off?
  • The Green revolution was the ag equivalent of the industrial revolution- the legacy, good and bad, is with us today
  • The inventors of the internal combustion engine and the refrigerator have completely shaped modern ag
  • People – all politicians have had a profound impact on farming but most of them mostly for the wrong reasons
  • The steam plough engines of the day pulling more furrows than ever thought before possible
  • Harry Ferguson and the 3 point linkage has to be one of the most useful agricultural inventions
  • Rachel Carson, her book ‘Silent Spring’ had huge impact on development of agriculture
  • A second wave of new crop varieties in the future will b helped by cheaper genome sequencing tech
  • Don’t forget our wild insect pollinators, been heroes for centuries and centuries. No PR machine for them
  • Tom Williams, Labour Ag Minister & architect of the 1947 Agriculture Act has to stand out as a major influence
  • Env stewardships/greening has shaped farming practice- and prob will do more in future!
  • Tom Williams & the entire Attlee administration more than worthy of a mention for their work on the 1947 Agriculture Act
  • In terms of milestones the single biggest gain has to be the development of fertiliser

Q4 Looking ahead to the future, what do we want from future Farming Hall of Fame members? Are they doing something special now?

  • Schmallenburg vaccine would be great.
  • The next breakthrough comes through the understanding of genes, plant and animal
  • Future farming heroes are the children growing up, seeing how tough industry is but choosing to stay in it & farm
  • For the general public to have better respect for farmers and younger generation being the face of agriculture
  • More women being the face of farming
  • Would like to see someone really educate the public on food, some are so far detached from their food it’s frightening.
  • For farming to be seen as 100% mainstream. For farmers to be visible, understood, valued, imitated, respected, talked about.
  • I know us lads all like our big machines but I see everything getting smaller, but much more technical
  • John Alliston from RAC and IAgM providing a conduit for tomorrow’s leaders. Sprinkles golddust around the industry.
  • It will be the lonely voices that point out the need for change, sustainability begins with people & soil
  • A new generation of pro agriculture policymakers who realise importance of food and environment to the promise of Britain
  • I feel that given the decline in state aid over many decades the next ten years is the time of the entrepreneur farmer
  • I’d like to champion the farmers who hasn’t done any special but simply working relentlessly for years with little recognition

Q5 WHO do we think will be remembered in the future, whether it’s from the 19th, 20th or 21st centuries? What do we expect?

  • Jim Paice for sure, he fought tooth and nail for the interests of agriculture and the environment.
  • Internet and social media radically changing the way Ag ind communicates/interacts. May become more powerful than we can imagine
  • BBC Radio 4 Introduced me to farming with ‘The Archers’ brought farming into many households
  • Churchill, for his 1929 de-rating of agricultural land when he was Chancellor, still not reversed.
  • Nick Brown MP is under appreciated for his sincere efforts during his short time as Ag Minister at a very difficult time
  • It was John Major who put Ag Prop Relief up to 100%…
  • Always fear style over content. Heroes to me are those quietly working in r & d. Waitrose take a retailing lead
  • William Cobbett has stood the test of time, he was compassionate to animals and humans and he paid a price for it

Q6 What has had the biggest impact on your farming journey? WHAT & WHO have made you who you are today? Family/friends/industry

  • I’d have to say the people I have worked for and mainly my college and my tutors have pushed me to achieve
  • Also the faces of farming now and my friends but mainly it’s being self determination to find my own way no help
  • Like many others probably my dad!
  • Dai Barling college lecturer first to open my eyes to what plants could do, make me ask questions and want to find answers
  • My parents- with hardly any experience or £, they set up farm in France & made it work for 12 years
  • My dad made me who I am and gave me my love of farming and my grandad, his father gave it to him – it’s in the blood
  • Dad, older brothers, YFC, the Mart, farming press.
  • I owe so much to the Young Farmers and the stalwarts who helped me in YFC, not just in agriculture but in my entire life
  • My father. Although we don’t always see eye to eye, I admire everything he has done in his farming life.
  • My Granddad ‘Harland Story’ he believed in me before anyone else, supported me and inspired even at the young age I was then
  • The unseen heroes. The farmer who quietly gets on about his work to the highest standards because it’s in his blood
  • My Dad. What is hard, the year I spent on farm placement during college, opened my eyes to how another business functioned.
  • My middle year farm boss, had an interesting way of thinking about life and farming.
  • Reading John Seymour’s Self-Sufficiency as a teenager and then learning to weld!

Q7 What international influences and/or influencers have been of particular significance to UK agriculture, or vice versa?

  • Love it or loathe is GM will be making its way over here it’s being successful in places like America, UK is next
  • I’ve only just come across Carlo Petrini (founder of Slow Food) so I don’t know much about him but I like the cut of his jib
  • Europe seems to have had a large political influence on Ag in the Isle of Man even though we are not part of it!
  • International influence? Franz Fischler, EU Agriculture Commissioner, grasped the need to decouple subsidy from production.
  • All the women farmers in Africa. They do most of the work while husbands often don’t.
  • The European midge’s influence might not be over
  • I’d also suggest the Kiwis who realised subsidies were bankrupting (mentally & $$) & went cold turkey on them
  • The taking of expertise to developing countries in order to help develop their agricultural base

Q8 Fathers as farming role models is a popular answer. What about the women in your life? Are they worthy for Farming Hall of Fame?

  • Fathers as role models are a generation thing….ask the same questions in 25 years and inspirational farmers will be 50/50
  • My mother did all she could to talk me out of Agri. She succeeded in stopping me farming but not from working in the industry
  • Temple Grandin ranks high as an international agricultural influencer for her work in improving animal welfare in livestock?
  • Farm women – the most incredible work ethic of all(+ running the house and family too in many cases) Something to live up to!
  • Traditional wife was central to operation. Now that roles more diverse, I hope the kitchen table still holds a special place
  • Behind every good farmer is a great farmers wife’ Something like that anyway
  • Women are key whether out in the field or at home holding the fort (and children)- they must not be overlooked!
  • My Mum was a huge inspiration on my life, gave me a love for the outdoors

Simon Haley, Reading Agricultural Consultants, and Alan Spedding, 13 June 2013

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