Back British farmers… or I will have to put corks in my cows’ a*ses, says Jeremy Clarkson

HE has become Britain’s most famous farmer – and its unlikeliest – since his TV documentary Clarkson’s Farm became a smash hit.

Now petrolhead Jeremy Clarkson is finding out what it really takes to make a living from the land. And it is far harder — and more frustrating — than belting around in a half-a-million-pound supercar on his other TV show, The Grand Tour.

Surrounded by his grazing cattle, Sun columnist Jeremy’s brow furrows as he outlines the red tape that is tying his farm, Diddly Squat, in bureaucratic knots.

Take his shorthorn cows’ muck — which his newly-acquired 19-strong herd are producing in big quantities.

One Government department, he says, encourages him to use it to fertilise the land, while another official body wants to ban him from doing it where it might pollute the water supply.

“What do I do then?” Jeremy wails in exasperation. “Put corks in the cows’ a*ses?”

The “ridiculous levels of legislation” are one reason why he is an outspoken supporter of today’s Back British Farming Day.

Teaming up with the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), Jeremy wants the Government to commit to Britain remaining at least 60 per cent self-sufficient in food. It has slipped from nearly 80 per cent in the 1980s.

Helping to launch the NFU’s new Food Report, Jeremy is also asking shoppers to buy British products, which he insists are better quality and greener.

He explains: “When you pick up a bit of meat in a supermarket and it’s got a little red tractor on it, it was produced in Britain. Buy it because some poor sod in the Peak District has been out rearing in the cold at 3am.”

Jeremy is backing NFU calls for supermarkets to create online Buy British buttons so shoppers can easily pick UK products.

He acknowledges that sometimes locally-produced goods can be dearer, but he says: “I urge any Sun reader who sees the difference between cost and value to think, ‘All right, it’s 5p more to buy this meat with a red tractor on it, but I’m getting better food and helping British farming’.”

He cites the example of American-grown tomatoes: “They’re unbelievably big, the size of grapefruit, and cost ten cents but you’re buying nothing, just displacement in the air. It has no nutritional value, totally tasteless, so you may as well spend 11 cents for something with vitamins in it.”

I met Jeremy at his 1,000-acre spread in a beautiful corner of the Cotswolds. It turned a grand profit of just £144 last year, which is why he calls it Diddly Squat Farm.

Looking suitably weather-beaten and agricultural in crumpled jeans and checkered shirt, he says: “I’m a trainee farmer. Even after two years in the business I realise no one’s really batting for the farmer. The Government certainly isn’t.

“And all you ever hear is, ‘You’re cruel to animals, you’re poisoning the soil’. No, farmers are really trying their hardest to feed the nation and look after the countryside.”


His actress girlfriend Lisa Hogan provides the glamour in his show, but Jeremy says she is looking forward to more down-to-earth activities when the herd is artificially inseminated.

He adds: “Apparently you have to put your hand up the cow’s bottom, I’m not quite sure why, in order to fill its vagina with bull semen. Bull semen is phenomenally expensive. So anyway, Lisa’s keen to do that.” At that moment Lisa arrives, providing coffee and chocolate cake.

“Just explaining that you want to put your hand up a cow’s bottom,” Jeremy, 61, says cheerily.

Lisa seems less sure, adding in her soft Irish brogue: “I wouldn’t necessarily say it like that but, yes, I think AI (artificial insemination) is fascinating.”

Jeremy worries that young farmers like his assistant Kaleb Cooper are being driven off the land by Government neglect of the farming industry. He even compares it to “ethnic cleansing”.

He adds: “Kaleb’s fantastic but it worries me how he’ll ever be able to afford his own farm. He’s up against hedge fund managers now who don’t necessarily want to farm it.”

Doncaster-born Jeremy is hardly a natural-born son of the soil. His first job as a teenager was sewing Paddington Bear cuddly toys for the family business before training as a journalist on local newspapers.

Then in 1988 he became the world’s most famous petrolhead, fronting Top Gear at the BBC before moving to Amazon Prime’s motoring show The Grand Tour in 2015 with his co-stars Richard Hammond and James May.

The runaway global success of Clarkson’s Farm, particularly in America, has seen its farm shop featured in the show swamped by shoppers and rubberneckers hoping for a selfie with the man himself.

The traffic wending its way to the shop — run by Lisa — through the country lanes near Chadlington in Oxfordshire have upset some locals.

Then when news leaked that Jeremy was planning a 60-seat cafe to sell his farm-reared beef in an old lambing shed, it caused uproar.

Last week he called a meeting in the village hall with a “nice screw-top wine” and free cheese in the hope of declaring “peace in our time”.


He says at times the meeting degenerated into “everything that’s wrong with Britain and why it’s my fault”.

He adds: “Villagers gossip. I thought the best way rather than have everyone guessing what I’m doing was to simply go down there. There were, by the end, three very, very angry people in the room and 60 or 70 perfectly happy people.”

Dad-of-three Jeremy says he wants to serve up his own steaks to survive a drop in agricultural subsidies and to combat fears of a flood of cheap meat after the Government’s signing of free trade deals with Australia and Canada.

“If Boris wants carbon neutrality by 2050, my cows don’t move more than five miles before they end up on the plate,” he says. “But I need a restaurant to do that.

“Eating meat, if it’s grass-fed British meat, is a very eco thing to do. My cows are wandering around eating pasture grass and having a very happy life. I know everyone wants cheap food. Farmers can produce it if the Government back off and we don’t have to jump through so many hoops.

“They tell us we’ve got to obey these strict rules, but Australian farmers don’t have to abide by British rules. The deck of cards is stacked against British farmers.”

As well as the welter of obscure rules, Jeremy worries that the farm’s badger population may infect his prized shorthorns with tuberculosis.

He brings up Geronimo the alpaca, who activists tried and failed to protect from being put down for testing positive for TB. He quips: “If my cows get TB I’ll tell the Government they identify as alpacas, then they’ll leave them alone.”

And what of the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill which would enshrine in law the principle that animals have feelings? The proposed bill could offer protection to invertebrates such as prawns and lobsters.

“The prawn cocktail fills me with joy,” Jeremy says excitedly. “I went to a 60th birthday party on Saturday, and the starter was a prawn cocktail with Marie Rose sauce.

“At no point did I think, ‘Poor prawn’. There’s legislation planned on how to kill lobsters. The idea is you can’t boil them, you have to stab them in the head.

“But since a lobster’s brain is only about the size of a pinhead, the chances are you’re going to miss it. The lobster, if it is capable of rational thought — and that’s highly doubtful — will be thinking, ‘I’ve just been cut in half by this knife because that’s a kind way to die’.”

Jeremy is convinced he can even convert “vegetablists” to his grass-reared livestock. He says: “One of the vegetablists on the production team, who is very vegan, said to me yesterday, ‘Is there any chance of taking some of your eggs home?’ I’ll have him eating a really nice steak by the end of the year.”

With that, he shuffles off to check on his trout pond — the petrolhead who has taught us to cherish our farmers.

  • For more details on the NFU's Back British Farming campaign visit

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