Farmers were accused of being bigotted and too firmly entrenched during a two-hour public discussion on farming at Sheffield, a classic FG article from June 1981 reads.
Most of the criticism came from animal welfare lobbyists rather than the general public, and questions rather predictably centered around the battery hen more than any other aspect of farming.
A farmers’ panel consisting of Mr Derek Sanderson, of Whiteley Wood, Sheffield, Mr Richard Cobbold, farms manager for the Harewood Estates, near Leeds, and Mr David Lloyd, NFU regional information officer, was chaired by BBC Radio Sheffield presenter Miss Diana Maiden, and coped well with a barrage of criticism.
Mr Sanderson later said he was disappointed that a wider range of subjects affecting both consumers and farmers failed to be covered because of the concentration of the pressure groups on the one rather narrow subject.
The size of the battery cages, de-beaking, codes of practice, factory farming, animal transport and slaughter, and the fact that 150,000 to 200,000 animals and birds a year were allegedly ’burned alive’ in farm fires, were all roundly condemned.
The health and wellbeing of the consumer were also discussed, with reference to the possible effects of growth promoter drugs in animal feeds and hormone implants, and the importation of grain and protein for animal feed from countries where starvation was the order of the day.
Vegetarians in the audience wanted farming to do without animals altogether.
Mr Cobbold felt the farmer was perhaps being unjustly blamed for everything.
Mr Sanderson pointed out that consumer demand dictated the way farming was carried out, and Mr Lloyd said efficient farming kept animals and land in good heart, and the consumer happy with good quality food.
The meeting was organised by the NAC’s Food and Farm Facts Unit.
FLASHBACK: Here’s how Farmers Guardian looked 38 years ago in June 1981 - and at just 18p! 🤓😀 pic.twitter.com/exN2O5OzLT— Farmers Guardian (@FarmersGuardian)