As a country boy, born and bred, I spent many days out in the fields around Caythorpe assisting real farmers with their work during my youth.
My father was a farm labourer, exploited by some of those same families, and my ancestors were among those hanged as ring-leaders of the ill-fated Corn Law riots in the area.
My brief career between leaving school and later becoming a journalist was as an auditor helping agriculturalists to produce accounts which would satisfy the taxman.
Even though I refused to falsify any of the figures and wasn’t asked to, I did have plenty of opportunities to learn the tricks of the trade, grumbles and grouses, tax dodges and other loopholes available to fool the Inland Revenue.
Fortunately, I was able to convince my clients that the truth was the best policy; the taxman accepted their accounts and no one broke the law.
So don’t tell me I know little or nothing about farmers, Mr NFU East Midlands regional director, Richard Hezlet. I agree that most farmers I have met are hard-working, generous guys, full of gifts of food they have produced themselves and genuine friendship.
But I also know that they are some of the shrewdest people I have ever known, especially where money is concerned.
But one thing I don’t think even they can do is to produce milk cheaply enough for supermarkets or other shops to sell regularly at four pints for well below £1, nor should they be expected to.
However, my wife is also an expert at finding the best offers in Grantham and at the time of writing she has been unable to root out milk prices quite as cheap as that.
Farmers win again – or do they?