A farmer’s daughter has taken to social media in an attempt to unite British farmers amid ’a barrage of misinformed abuse’ and ’mounting aggression towards the rural community as a whole’.
28-year-old Claire Saunters’ parents run a beef suckler herd in Sussex, selling beef in boxes direct from the farm which she helped them to set up.
She now works full-time for a buying group - a farmer owned co-operative with over 1,100 members - based the South East.
Her post on Facebook, which continues to rack up likes and shares is a battle cry to British farmers to stand up and be counted in the face of unfair criticism.
It reads: "I am at a point where I cannot stand by and not say something, albeit through desperation if I am honest, because the mounting aggression towards me and my friends, and family, and the rural community as a whole from those opposed to us and the way we live our lives is at a turning point.
"How do we answer this barrage of misinformed abuse towards us? How do we reason with those that are not prepared to listen to the normal people involved in the farming and shooting industries?
"How do we counter the fervent keyboard warriors that bombard 3rd generation dairy farmer’s websites and social media pages with negative reviews and threats towards them and their families?
"What gives these people who have never worked or lived in a rural or countryside community the right to threaten our way of life? Who gives them the authority to break into private property and destroy game farms that are working legally, causing thousands of pounds worth of damage and killing thousands of week’s old birds?
"How do we stop these criminals from doing this kind of damage and how do we stop them from spreading the lies and false news about our lives?
"I don’t know what the answers to a lot of these questions are, but one thing that comes to the forefront of my mind time and time again, is that it happens because these people have no idea about who the we are, about the ordinary folk whose livelihoods and businesses are intertwined with shooting and farming.
Education is the key; ‘knowledge is power’ as is so eloquently quoted on a particular ’anti’s’ website.
"We as members of the rural community have got to show who we are, we have got to show that the farming and shooting industries are not the ‘domains of gentry and well to do’ as they are portrayed by those that would see us destroyed.
"Farming is the herdsmen and sheperdess’ who work 365 days a year to care for their animals, in order to bring their children up in the communities that they themselves grew up in.
"Shooting is the keepers who leave home at 4.30am every morning to fill their feeders and drinkers, rather than being at home to have breakfast with their children, because if they don’t head out they won’t be able to provide that breakfast for their children.
"Farming is the contractors who work until the early hours of the morning during harvest to ensure it is done before that 40% chance of rain arrives the next day, which if he doesn’t will threaten his chance of a day off the following week when his kids are off school.
"Shooting is the Saturday morning gathering of beaters, at the shoot where their father helped out in his younger years, where nurses, and accountants, and dental nurses, and retirees and children of all ages head out in all-weather to go home tired and content with their days work.
"Farming is the dairy farmer who has diversified his business to do his own milk round, and sell raw milk direct to the public, because he has had no choice but transform his business when the Supermarkets that pay him his milk cheque each month aren’t paying him what his milk is worth.
"Shooting is the figures showing the increased numbers of red listed species on managed Grouse Moors.
"Farming is the maintenance of hedgerows, and ponds, and wetlands, and all the other non-farming related habitats that are looked after and improved by farmers and other custodians of the countryside because they know the value of that biodiversity.
"We are the only ones that have the right to educate those outside of our communities about who we are.
"We have to stand up for ourselves, and be ready to answer the questions that will inevitably come from those we give these insights to.
"So I am asking you to show who you are. Show yourself as an ordinary tractor driver working all hours.
"Show yourself as a shepherd who shears other farmer’s sheep to earn a bit of extra income.
"Show yourself as an individual with a ‘mainstream job’ that at the weekends dons your wellies and your waterproofs to go picking up with your dog that you’ve poured your heart and soul into training.
"Show yourself as a real person, who lives, breaths and works in the countryside."