In these unprecedented times, farming’s pivotal role in feeding the nation has been brought back into sharp focus.
After several years during which agriculture has been under attack, suddenly it is back in fashion and its importance cannot be overstated.
And yet, over the past decade, how many times has it felt as though farming has been fighting a losing battle in its attempts to make Government Ministers across the UK understand why it is so important this industry is properly supported?
Whether it has been the rise of the so called ‘green blob’ of environmentalists, or the extreme animal rights activists, recent years have made many in our industry feel as though they are being abused from every angle.
Now though, the true importance of food and the farmers who produce it has been highlighted by the coronavirus pandemic. And while farmers will be doing the same as they do every spring, whether that is drilling cereals, lambing sheep or keeping the milk and meat aisles full, the sheer necessity of these processes has been exposed to everyone by the presence of empty retail shelves and panic buying.
A key refrain of farmers in recent years as the debate about the future of farm support has rumbled on has been that ‘people need to eat’, and therefore Government will support farmers to stay in business.
The challenge has been that, for so long, governments have clearly not worried about where that food has come from, be it the UK or the other side of the world.
Now, however, with global and domestic supply chains creaking under the strain of Covid-19, will the recent political emphasis on greening farm policies and seemingly taking food production for granted be diluted?
Getting through this global pandemic is the main priority for everyone at this current time, but how it reshapes the perception of the industry among policymakers longer term will be intriguing.
Farming and food production has always been a key underpinning facet of any society – let us hope those in power are now waking up to that fact.