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Shoppers need educating about food, but UK farmers can rise to the challenge

Shoppers need educating about the importance of buying British after Brexit, but UK farmers can rise to the challenge, says Matt Legge, a sheep, beef and pig farmer from the Isle of Wight.

It’s true you can soon get dizzy going around in circles, occasionally stopping to bang your head against the wall.

 

This may be why one of the biggest subjects in British politics has now become one of the biggest turn-offs for the British public.

 

In the 2016 referendum, when the UK voted to leave the over-bureaucratic leash of the European Union, little thought was given to what would replace it.

 

This was then followed by an election where many voted against the standing Government, leaving the Prime Minister in a weak position to negotiate in Europe.

 

And next came a series of meaningful votes, which apparently meant very little, where politicians voted against a deal, against no deal and against any other amendments to the only deal on offer. Where to next?

 

Options

 

There are, apparently, options:

 

1) – Accept a deal which includes compromises to gain the acceptance of the other 27 states at the negotiating table.

 

2) – Leave with no deal and risk sacrificing those who rely on the trade links to and from the EU and its trading partners.

 

3) – A People’s Vote. Presumably if the result is to remain, we then go to a best of three?

 

If the grazing stock found the grass was not actually greener on the other side, would the gap in the hedge still be there to sneak back through?

 

The UK farming industry is not alone in our confusion and frustration with the Brexit process and the knock-on effects are huge.

 

Threat

 

The threat of continued uncertainty is hitting industry, with investment stalled and overseas opportunities becoming more attractive to many of the UK’s global traders.

 

The potential for another General Election is also de-stabilising.

 

But despite this, the farming industry remains in a potentially strong position.

 

It’s true that a proportion of our populous has forgotten the value of food, does not see the true footprint of what’s on their dinner plate and does not appreciate the value in what farmers do.

This is, however, only a minority.

 

Educate

 

Yes, we can improve what we do, and also do more to educate our consumers, but this a challenge we can meet.

 

A huge proportion of UK consumers do value British produce, British agriculture and the British landscape. And this is where our opportunity lies.

 

MP’s will, eventually, make some decisions, and these decisions will shape the new Agriculture Bill.

 

This Bill can be the framework on which to build and safeguard our standards, but only if we make it so.

 

Talk to your MPs, but also talk to your customers. People need to eat and people want our countryside.

 

Links

 

Make sure the links are understood and that farming is clearly recognised for providing the public goods we work to supply every day of our lives.

 

Part of the Brexit vote related to people taking ownership of Brand Britain – farmers can deliver on that brand.

 

Looking back to the referendum campaigns, there were certain prominent figures making a number of very enticing promises as part of the leave campaign.

 

There is a fair chance one of those key campaigners could be our next PM.

Let’s hold them to their promises, if they are.

 

Matt can be found tweeting at @Duxmore


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