Arable & beef
ARABLE & BEEF, WILTSHIRE: Ben farms alongside his brother and father in the heart of the Pewsey Vale, in Wiltshire. Their 800-acre (324-hectare) mixed farm, located around the small village of Easton Royal, is mainly arable and beef but recently Ben has helped the farm diversify into PYO pumpkins (at Halloween) and Christmas trees, which customers collect. An eighth of the land is contract farmed organically.
Ben was brought up on Easton Farm and is the sixth generation of the Cooper family to live there. Previously the farm was part of the Ailesbury Estate. The traditional farm buildings, mainly still in use, date back to the 18th century and have been largely untouched. The whole farm is within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and contains many historical monuments including bomb craters, a Roman road, long barrows and even the remains of a medieval/Tudor priory and mansion owned by the Seymour family.
Easton farm combines growing barley, wheat, oats and canary seed with producing beef cattle. It also produces hay and straw (mainly sold to livery yards) and hosts a working game shoot. A further income stream is provided by renting out cottages in and around the village. Ben also works off the farm. He carries out agricultural market research for clients across the agricultural industry and works for a company called Kynetec. He is also a Teaching Fellow and Sessional Lecturer at the University of Reading.
Much of Easton Farm’s permanent grassland consists of water meadows - both natural and improved - all of which are involved in the Government’s Countryside Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) scheme. The farm also has small areas of woodland, the most significant being the clump on Easton Hill which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Combining efficient productivity with protecting the farm’s landscape and environment is vitally important to Ben.
Ben says farming is in his blood. “I love the countryside and couldn’t imagine a world without it. I love that farming is about working with nature and producing a primary product… food.”
He is also passionate about communicating what farming is really about to the public. “I believe telling the story of British farming is key to its success in the future. We need to champion our own story and provide unbiased and truthful insights into agriculture.”
Meat consumption. “Farmers are getting a bad press for the carbon footprint of beef,” says Ben. “However, we are using an extensive grazing system, producing our animal feed on farm, buying young stock primarily from local farms and selling some of our finished beef directly to the local community. We are not producing beef intensively and we are using our beef cattle to maintain our precious SSSI. I’d like to encourage the public to eat high quality British produce and choose local.”
Member National Farmers Union
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