Walk week brings PR to the farmyard
By Peter Bullen
TOWNSPEOPLE will be invading farms all over Britain this week, but they will not be unwelcome New Age travellers or animal rights demonstrators.
All of them will be invited on to the 122 farms from the Orkneys to Cornwall taking part in the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Groups national farm walk week.
FWAGs new boss, David Ball, says the aim is to get people out on to working farms and show them how farming and the environment can be brought together.
This year he is hoping the week will provide the added bonus of giving urban visitors first-hand experience of the high standards of animal husbandry employed by most farmers, to offset the image painted by continuing animal welfare demonstrations.
The former ADAS officer responsible for implementing MAFFs agri/environmental sche-mes became FWAGs chief executive eight weeks ago. His aim is to raise FWAGs profile in the industry and to persuade farmers that his 62 advisers who will visit 5000 farms this year are on hand to give "whole-farm" advice on environmental issues.
Previewing national walk week at Loseley Park Farms near Guildford, Surrey, he was brought face to face with farmers difficulties in pleasing the public.
Since launching its now famous Loseley icecream and yogurt nearly 30 years ago, the 567ha (1400-acre) estates farming policy has been consumer driven with an emphasis on high environmental and animal welfare standards.
This includes leasing out land for outdoor pig production which should have delighted critics of intensively housed pigs. Not so in stockbroker-belt Guildford. Neighbours constant complaints about the sight and smell of the pigs have been a big factor in Loseleys decision to put a stop to the outdoor units. *