Petrolhead, broadcaster, TV host of Who Whats to Be a Millionaire (though there’s probably not much chance in his new career), and now … farmer… Jeremy Clarkson has been named the NFU’s 2021 Farming Champion of the Year at the Farmers Weekly Awards for his work this year which has seen him champion British farming.
His hit show on Amazon Prime, Clarkson’s Farm, has showcased the realities of farming on his farm in Oxfordshire to millions of viewers, who enjoy his outspoken views on farming and no-nonsense approach. He has been a strong supporter of the NFU’s Back British Farming day and echoed its call for UK food self-sufficiency not to slip below 60 percent – and went further, calling for government to make 80 per cent self-sufficiency a target.
And other farmers agree, celebrating the warts-and-all coverage of farming, rather than the (at times), sepia-tinged reportage favoured by the BBC’s Countryfile. At this week’s The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival, James Rebanks, author of The Shepherd’s Life, said that Clarkson’s television series capturing the difficulties of life on his Diddly Squat Farm had made the former Top Gear presenter a hero to farmers. According to a report in The Times, he said: “Frankly they [farmers] have been pissed off with Countryfile for 30 years.”
Jeremy Clarkson bought about a thousand acres of land in the North Cotswolds near Chipping Norton in 2008. The fields were mostly arable, growing a rotation of barley, rapeseed and wheat. These were farmed on a contract basis by a local villager called Howard but he retired in 2019.
NFU President Minette Batters said: “When it comes to recognising someone who has done their best to showcase British food and farming over the past 12 months, no-one has earned this award more than Jeremy Clarkson. His show has really resonated with the public, brought alive the ups and downs of our industry to a huge new audience, and transported British farming into the living rooms of families across the country.
“It’s been such a challenging time for British farming over the past 12 months; as key workers our farmers have kept shelves stocked with British food and dealt with extreme weather events. Now, they are battling labour shortages, supply chain disruption and rising costs, which are causing severe problems for essential food producing businesses.
“Through all of this, Jeremy Clarkson has been a vocal champion for the British farming industry. His enthusiasm comes through in spades and his overwhelming and continued support for the NFU’s Back British Farming campaign makes him a very deserving winner of this prestigious award.”
Jeremy Clarkson and Lisa Hogan opened the Diddly Squat Farm Shop last year, and since then, the world and his (or her) wife, have apparently flocked to its gates.