The rising cost of food

March 4, 2022

As the cost of meat is rising many people may not know the reasons why it is doing so. We asked farmer Nick Booth from Bagnell Farm to tell his story.

As farmers we are not just raising the cost of our products so we can make extra money. In fact, as farmers we are probably guilty of not passing all our costs onto our produce as we are very conscious about how much we charge in the first place.

But let me please enlighten you a little as to what the reasons are for the price of our meat. And please, whilst the comments are related to our farm directly, I can assure you that many farmers are in the same boat.

Bagnell Farm has just over 180 acres of farmland with approx. 60 acres of that woodland which is allocated to our pigs to forage and wallow in. Leaving us with approx. 120 acres designated to our cattle and lambs.

To make a real difference in livestock welfare we must give our young stock concentrate which enables them to get the best start in life once they have reached 6 months and this continues for several months alongside eating grass, hay, haylage and wildflowers. Once they reach circa 18 months for our cattle, we then let them finish on grass. They graze in fields and long-term pastures for around 30 months.

To produce the best grass, we fertilise the land. We use non-GM concentrates made up of barley, sugar beet and wheat.

This year fertiliser has increased in cost by 225% and concentrates have increased by 65%, straw has risen to an extreme amount, so we now bed our animals on recycled woodchip.

The above costs, not including rising vets’ costs, has a knock-on effect.

Then let’s add to that the costs of rising abattoir bills. We only use small abattoirs that we trust. Their costs not only include their usual overheads, but they also include vets to be onsite permanently as well as meat inspectors. This ensures the welfare of the animals and quality of meat.

We also have our usual overheads, gas, electricity etc which we all know in what direction and increase they are going. Red diesel costs have spiralled recently.

As a farm, and prior to Brexit, we received an EU Government grant which was for “caring for the land”. However, this is now ending abruptly, with no UK Grant to replace it. In fact, our government wants farmers to do away with rearing animals and plant their farms with trees and returning to “re-wilding”.

If that is the case, this would mean most of our meats being imported from abroad and as end consumers we would have no option to buy local produce, only imported. Meats we have no control over how they are reared, what feeds they are given, what conditions, how they are grown, what conditions they are slaughtered by and where in the world they are imported from.

Then we have the costs associated with butchering, increased costs in packaging, ingredients, staff, and this is before we set off for markets.

So off to market we go, and guess what, diesel has increased 60% over the last 24 months, increased insurance, running costs associated to our vans. For some producers there are ULEZ costs and Congestions Charges as well as parking costs. Staff costs for market staff as well as market fees.

I do hope that the above gives people an insight into the rising costs of farmers, but I would like to point out that we are as committed as always to giving our animals the best welfare they deserve, and in turn providing our customers with the best choice and quality of meat.

Nick Booth

Owner, Bagnell Farm Meats Ltd