Farming needs to be high on the public agenda, the chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, which includes Waitrose, has told the Royal Show. 

Sir Stuart Hampson, this year’s president of the Royal Agricultural Society of England, opened the show (2 Jul) with the message that farming is important.
 
“It is not a matter of indifference whether British farming fails or succeeds. It is something of vital importance to all of us,” he said.

“Three quarters of the land in this county is occupied by farming interests and therefore the future landscape of our grandchildren will depend on whether or not we have a thriving agriculture sector in the UK.”

Sir Stuart said a thriving industry could not be artificially created by controlling the market. It needed to succeed in its own right.

But that did not mean that shoppers should simply be asked to pay more to British farmers.

“Shoppers should feel that they want to buy British rather than they ought to buy British, and to great an extent currently that isn’t the case,” he said.

“What should happen is that shoppers who buy British have the confidence that they are buying quality, freshness and taste, which represents good value. We should be confident that the environmental and husbandry standards of British farmers are the best in the world.”

Sir Stuart marked the start of the show by publishing an independent study which outlines a vision for the future of farming in the UK.

The report argues that differentiating products is the key to safeguarding a sustainable, viable and flourishing agricultural sector.

For more details see Farmers Weekly out on 7 July.