Peter Wright airs concerns over disappearing farmers

Peter Wright says he’ll ‘stick to the day job’

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The Yorkshire Vet star Peter has worked as a vet in the Yorkshire Dales for decades and has worked closely with farmers throughout that time. At 65, Peter has witnessed the changing attitudes towards farmers and the amount of work they put into their “way of life.” Speaking to Express.co.uk, he explained why he “feels” for farmers, adding that people “expect their food for nothing”, something he has noticed while working on the popular Channel 5 show.

Peter was lucky enough to have worked with the real James Alfred Wight, commonly referred to as James Herriot following his popular books and two television series that followed.

The current series of All Creatures Great and Small is exploring the period of the famous vet’s life just as World War Two was breaking out, and how the historic event impacted him and his career.

Peter learned from James when he began work as a vet himself at Skeldale Veterinary Practice.

He detailed the changes he has seen when it comes to farming as he reflected on his expansive career.

When asked about the struggles farmers face, he explained: “Not only does our television programme portray the countryside and the people, but also the way of life that we have.

“And I think it does touch on the struggles that farmers have. You know, who in this day and age works work seven days a week on virtually no pay?

“And that’s the position farmers are in. Farming is a way of life. They don’t make a fortune, they’re looking to make a living.

“And sadly, the small family farms are disappearing and continue to disappear, because they cannot even make a living now.

“People, I think, expect their food for nothing. You know, going back to when I was growing up in the 70s, at that point – and I’m sure statistics will show – from the average family wage, a high proportion went on feeding their family.

“Now that’s dropped dramatically because people expect their food for very little.

“And I think with the crisis that we’re in at the moment, that’s going to be highlighted because you know, farmers cannot afford to drop their places anymore because they’ll go out of business.

“The public, quite rightly, expects high animal welfare standards.

“And with that to meet as well, in conjunction with the costs and the downward pressures on prices, it’s extremely difficult for farmers to make ends meet.”

The Channel 5 star continued: “I do feel for farmers because obviously, I’m in contact with them on a daily basis.

“And they are a pretty resilient bunch, but there’s a limit to how much [they can take].”

Touching on his own difficult career decisions, Peter also explained why he felt it was time to leave Skaldale in 2021.

“At the end of 2020, it became very apparent that it was no longer economically viable for Skeldale to continue administering the farm animals,” he told Express.co.uk.

“For the simple reason, we just don’t have the numbers in the area. And, you know, when I came to work in this James Herriot practice in 1982, we had something like 60 small dairy herds.

“At the end of 2020, we had one left. And this is typical of the farming community.

“The bigger farm enterprises are getting bigger and the small family farms are disappearing.

“So we have several very large farms, and not so many small family farms. “And so I had to make a decision. It wasn’t economically viable for Skeldale to continue doing purely companion animal work.

“I had to decide whether I should hand my stethoscope in.”

The Yorkshire Vet continues on Tuesday at 8pm on Channel 5.

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