TV personality turned farmer Jeremy Clarkson has said that food prices need to increase further in order to help British farmers.

When asked, on a recent episode of the News Agents podcast, if he agreed that food prices should continue to rise despite the cost-of-living crisis, Clarkson said “they should. They have to”.

“People simply don’t pay enough for their food, and the one thing the government will never say is ‘you’ve got to pay more for your food’,” he said.

Clarkson estimated that in the next five years, 30% of farmers will give up farming completely due to the industry’s current financial outlook.

“If I didn’t have another income stream, there’s no way I could do it,” he said.

“As anyone who watched the first series of Clarkson’s Farm knows, I made a £144 profit. I mean, it’s just nonsensical.

“We have to be able to feed people who live here. We’re at what, 60% self sufficiency at the moment? Which is troublingly low.”

Bird flu

Clarkson also spoke about the impact of avian influenza (bird flu) on farming, which is an added financial burden to poultry farmers at present.

“It’s awful, and it’s financially desperate for the poultry farmer,” he said.

“It’s a nightmare, not just for hens and turkeys, but actually for birds. I don’t think people are quite grasping just how bad it is,” he said.

“Every beach in Britain is carpeted with carcasses.

“There were 37 million birds, laying birds, in Britain until very recently. And now, 3.7 million have died, and then five million have gone because the farmers have given up so there’s a big shortfall of eggs.

“You can’t afford it, and the feed has gone up by a hundred quid a tonne. You’re screwed, I mean, you’re absolutely screwed so a lot of poultry farmers are saying ‘it’s just not worth it.”

Bovine TB

Clarkson compared the ongoing bird flu outbreak to the issue farmers face in relation to bovine tuberculosis (bTB).

“We’ve got exactly the same problem, of course, with badgers. I mean what do you do about that?” he said.

“You can’t really vaccinate the cows because then you can’t tell whether they’ve got it or not. You can’t really vaccinate badgers because we probably have 100 badgers living on the farm.

“How are you going to vaccinate that lot? I have no idea.

“If we can’t even work out how to deal with badgers who, by and large and broadly speaking, stay where they are, how on earth are you going to do it for billions of birds that have a habit of moving around the world all the time?”