"Did common sense make a rare appearance at the European Parliament this week during the vote over glyphosate?
"With fears mounting that a science led approach was about to be ignored, it turned out that farming managed to secure a victory of sorts.
"With MEPs recommending approval for a further seven years from this summer, UK farmers will be able to keep using this vital herbicide as the battle against crop disease and the challenge of making profits mounts year on year.
"But the task of ensuring the regulation which governs farming is fair and equitable for those out in the field goes on across the industry.
"The emergence of a letter this week from City investors calling on food companies to keep antibiotic use in animals to a minimum for fear of negative PR shows how an image conscious, mechanised supply chain can skew debates one way or another.
"With phrases such as ‘factory farms’ littering the mainstream press, it painted a negative and distorted view of farming to consumers already far removed from the realities of modern agriculture in this country.
"The last thing farming needs is more reasons for consumers and antis to attack it, yet the glyphosate and antibiotic furore showed just how scaremongering can hurt the industry and potentially lead to new rules governing it.
"Going forward, it will be crucial for all strands of the farming industry to have a cogent argument which outlines why it operates in the way it does, why it uses certain arable or livestock systems, why it applies certain sprays to crops and why it uses antibiotics on animals in the way it does.
"In an era in which increasing numbers of consumers turn their back on traditional farm products in favour of de rigueur alternatives such as soya milk or sausages from anything other than a pig, it is vital the industry fights flak with facts as it seeks to maintain the public’s trust."
- Ben Briggs, editor
April 15, 2016