6 September 2002

Campaigns capital launch

By Isabel Davies

BEN Gill will man a market stall in the heart of Londons West End when he launches a new NFU publicity campaign to persuade the general public to back British farmers.

The NFU president will set up shop outside the unions headquarters on Shaftesbury Avenue on Monday (Sept 9) with the aim of highlighting the gap between farmgate and retail prices.

Passing Londoners will be invited to buy a typical basket of goods at farmgate prices so they can see the difference between what they would have spent in a supermarket.

Lost jobs

They will also be handed a range of leaflets that will help highlight the number of jobs lost each year as well as the contribution farmers make to the environment.

The leaflets explain to consumers that many products like milk, wheat and barley cost more to produce than farmers get paid for them. As a result, farmers average wage is much less than the national minimum wage.

Mr Gill said it was time to tell people about the importance of farming and what they would lose if it continued to shrink at its current rate.

"This is not a whinge. At a time when people have never been more disconnected from the countryside, it is understandable that they dont realise the impact farmers and growers have on their everyday lives," he said.

"We want to turn this around with easily understandable facts and figures to show to people why farming counts and what its problems are. With public support we can have a future."

The Farming Counts campaign has been timed t coincide with the run up to the Liberty and Livelihood March and the party political conferences this month and next.

A spokesman for the British Retail Consortium, which represents all the supermarkets, said the margins retaillers take on basic foodstuffs are often very narrow. &#42