BRITISH AGRICULTURE must try to gain the trust of the public rather than try and reshape the public image of farmers, Peter Melchett, policy director for the Soil Association, has told farmers weekly.”

Trust is a much deeper concept than image. It is very difficult to gain, but also to shake. It”s not about campaigns. It”s down to what you do. In the organic sector, we need to make sure that consumers are confident that what we say corresponds with what we do,” Lord Melchett said.

He added that honesty and humility are also essential: “Unless people are prepared to admit having made mistakes, they are never going to get trust. Unless there is some kind of admission of what went wrong in agriculture, with land drainage, pesticides and so on, farming is unlikely to gain the public”s trust.”

He also called for more openness in British farming: “Agriculture as a whole hides things. We hide abattoirs. We hide information about chemicals. All this must stop if British farming is to gain the trust that is needed.”