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LAMMA 2021

LAMMA 2021

Young farmer focus: Martha Hayes - 'Our farmers must be trusted to deliver'

Martha Hayes, 24, is manager of media and communications at Innovation for Agriculture, which she does alongside running her herd of Lincoln Red cattle and helping out with the family farm in Lincolnshire.

Background

 

I am very lucky to have been born into a farming family and I have never thought of working in any other industry.

 

I am the fourth generation to be involved with our family farm in Lincolnshire, where we are predominantly arable but also have a herd of pedigree Lincoln Red cattle.


Day-to-day

 

I graduated from the Royal Agricultural University in 2018 with a first-class honours degree in agriculture.

From there, I started working for Innovation for Agriculture (IfA).

 

The organisation specialises in soil health, regenerative agriculture and precision technologies in livestock farming.

 

There is a huge amount I learn day-to-day which I take home and apply to our own farm. IfA prides itself on offering opportunities to young people and currently 40 per cent of the organisation is under 30.


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The future

 

Agriculture is a volatile, unpredictable industry and what shape UK farming will take in the future is very unclear.


A positive outcome of the Covid-19 pandemic was a huge soar in demand for local produce and a rediscovered connection with where food comes from.

 

One thing I hope is that consumers do not forget what it was like to experience empty supermarket shelves.

 

As Defra begins to assess the feedback from the recent Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme consultation document, they should also take into consideration the importance of home-grown produce.

 

I believe we must find a balance between food production and environmental stewardship.

 

As British food is produced to some of the highest environmental standards in the world, our farmers should be trusted to successfully deliver both.


We can achieve this if environmentally friendly farming systems are included within the proposed ELM scheme, rather than just focusing on habitat restoration and potentially importing environmental damage instead.

 

Grazing livestock in extensive grass-based systems, like those seen in Britain, means beef produced here has a greenhouse gas footprint two-and-a-half times lower than the global average and this should be recognised and rewarded.


My Lincoln Reds travel a total of eight miles from the field to the abattoir, continuing from there to the local farm shop.

 

They are grass-fed and the permanent pasture and hedgerows that they graze absorb methane through the sink effect.

 

UK farmers are a brilliant example that it is the ‘how not the cow’.


I believe future policy does not need to choose between food production or environmental measures.

 

UK farmers are more than capable of successfully achieving both.

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