Jeremy Clarkson has said that Britons “do not pay enough for their food”, while recounting an experience when he was battered by heavy rain as he tried to help pigs mate.
The broadcaster, 62, bought an Oxfordshire farm in 2008 and began managing the land when a tenant farmer retired in 2019. His efforts have been documented in the TV series Clarkson’s Farm, which shows his difficulties in running the farm and the effects of the pandemic on the industry.
The series has acquired a cult following, with thousands of fans flocking to visit the farm, affectionately renamed Diddly Squat in reference to its tiny profits, to buy milk, rapeseed oil, chutneys and jams.
Appearing on The News Agents podcast, Clarkson told the hosts Emily Maitlis and Jon Sopel that he believed food prices should be double what they are. “People simply don’t pay enough for their food. The one thing a government will never say, ‘Oh you’ve got to pay more for food, you don’t pay enough’.
“[Prices] should be double what they are. It’s soul-destroying, the amount of work. I mean I was out last week in honestly sideways rain, really heavy, hard rain, trying to get a pig’s penis into the back of another pig while Lisa, my girlfriend, was trying to give another sow the impression she was being mated by rubbing her back,” he said. “Then somebody’s going to go, ‘How much for your bacon?! Why are you charging so much?’ Because it costs a fortune to do it.”
He added: “It was a very, very funny day but really hard work and then Lisa and I had to build all their pens so you’re out at night because it goes dark so early. You’re out at night hammering fence posts and then stretching the barbed wire along and fixing the electric fences just so that somebody can stand in Tesco and go ‘have you seen the price of these pork chops?!’”
According to Office for National Statistics data, grocery costs have risen by almost 15 per cent on average over the past year, with some items going up by much more. Research by the consumer group Which? showed that some branded items such as Dolmio had doubled in some stores.
Last month, Clarkson was ordered to shut his farm’s café and restaurant after council officials said he “ignored” warnings that he was in breach of planning regulations.
The presenter opened the restaurant in an old lambing barn in July after West Oxfordshire district council rejected his plans for a bistro. At the restaurant’s opening, he told The Times that he had found a “cunning little loophole” that allowed him to change the barn’s use without planning permission.
He was then ordered to remove all tables and chairs because the restaurant was “incompatible” with its location within the Cotswolds area of outstanding natural beauty.
There were also complaints of heavy traffic and damage to grass verges as fans queued to visit the farm.