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Matthew Naylor’s column criticising an AHDB newspaper advert, apparently encouraging the consumption of imported food, sparked a big response from Farmers Weekly readers. 

While he applauded the ad for promoting English lamb, saying the recipe looked “jolly appetising”, he questioned its inclusion of other products, including new potatoes and green beans, which, given that the advert ran in November, would be imported.

See also: Opinion: English lamb with all the (imported) trimmings

Other than the meat, the recipe “didn’t include a single other item which was produced in the UK,” he wrote.

Here are four letters that arrived in response:

Regarding the Matthew Naylor column – the Farmers Weekly Opinion pages make for a good read and always entertain.

Our successful mini-roasts campaign is a carefully considered response to changing consumer habits.

The family Sunday roast is a prime example of this as our research tells us Sunday now only accounts for 50% of roast occasions.

Targeting younger consumers (25- to 34-year-olds) with an innovative take on roasts as an easy midweek meal helps breathe new life into the market and encourages this target audience to keep buying and cooking beef and lamb in the years ahead.

Our recipes often promote produce from across sectors and celebrate the British larder in all its glory, mindful (when practical) of domestic produce and seasonal availability.

As part of AHDB’s new strategy published in December, we will be looking at how we can best align our recipe work to ensure we are making the most of farmers’ and growers’ products.

Nick Allen, AHDB Market Development Director

Does Matthew Naylor have to keep having a dig at his fellow farmers?

Could I remind him that sheep farming in Britain has probably played a more important role in the ecology, environment and natural beauty of our amazing country than any other type of agriculture.

From the uplands and the dales; the lowlands and the wolds; the peaks and fells; the moors and the mountains – all have been crafted, tended and loved by generations of hard-working shepherds to produce our rich tapestry of landscapes.

Let’s support our local suppliers, which will also have the benefit of maintaining our own environment.

Mark Meredith, Kidderminster, Worcestershire

I was disappointed to see Matthew Naylor seize upon the AHDB lamb advert as an opportunity to incite division between different sectors of UK agriculture.

As one who has long campaigned for AHDB Beef & Lamb to emulate their New Zealand counterparts, who successfully use producers’ levy money to promote and sell their product in over 100 different countries, it is frustrating to see our efforts undermined, not for the first time, by influential individuals from the arable sector playing ‘dog in the manger’.

Bryan Griffiths, NSA English Committee Chairman

Matthew Naylor’s regular ‘column of controversy’ rarely disappoints, at least not for those who thrive on antagonism.

He may not be aware that the sheep industry has collectively signed up to get our younger generation eating lamb through the development of cuts and offers that suit their interests and lifestyles and adds value to the product.

Indeed, if we don’t do this we risk lamb consumption falling dramatically at a point in the future when the older lamb-eating generation passes on.

The world is changing before our eyes and farmers and food manufacturers (and levy bodies) are rightly working hard to stay ahead of the game and create market opportunities.

To criticise the use of livestock levy payers funds being used to develop new and attractive products and to communicate this to the marketplace is short-sighted.

And as Matthew rightly points out, this work and the advert was funded by lamb levy money to promote lamb – something that most levy payers want to see and something we know works.

Phil Stocker, National Sheep Association chief executive