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Support for British producers must continue after coronavirus

Those who work in the farming and food industry were quickly given ‘essential’ or ‘key worker’ status when the coronavirus pandemic brought the world to a standstill in March.

And for obvious reasons; food production has been critical to the coronavirus response.

 

So for those juggling two essential roles, like the farmers who have spent the last few months working in the NHS and risking their lives to help others, their work has been nothing short of heroism.

 

Not only have the farmers and healthcare workers featured on page 6 had to face the danger and pressure of helping the sick every day throughout the pandemic, they have also had to deal with the day-to-day stress and strain of running a farm.

 

For some, like Heidi Sowerby and her family, that included major price drops and financial volatility at the peak of the crisis, which could not have come at a worse time.

 

But what the pandemic has shown is the support for British farmers and the businesses which underpin them.

 

Retail sales of red meat, dairy, potatoes and flour have been off the scale, butcher’s shops have reported two of their strongest quarters and greater engagement with the non-farming audience, as shown by the recent 24 Hours in Farming event, is surely something to celebrate.

 

But the focus now must be to capitalise on this groundswell of support for UK agriculture.


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As Louise Welsh of Quality Meat Scotland outlines, high welfare, quality produce and trusted supply chains are the unique selling point of British agriculture and we must leverage the relationships built during the pandemic to keep people buying British.

 

As ecommerce continues to grow at lightning speed, it will be vital for the industry to keep up with the pace.

 

Retailers, whether it is those selling from the farm gate or farm shop, right up to the multinationals, must make it as easy as possible for the consumer to continue what the pandemic started.

 

That is to buy British, support local supply chains and help keep those businesses which kept us fed in our nation’s time of need, on a strong footing for the future.

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