5 September 2000
Womens Institute to support farmers

by FWi staff

THE Womens Institute is to launch a campaign in support of Britains hard-pressed farmers and encourage consumers to buy local food.

The Buy British. Buy Local Fortnight will run from 11-24 September 2000, part of the WIs efforts to encourage customers to support their local farmers.

Helen Carey, chairman of the National Federation of Womens Institutes, said its members were only too aware of the desperate plight facing many farmers.

“Time is running out. We hope this campaign will add weight to the growing calls for concerted government action to prevent our farmers going under.”

The WI, which is largest womens organisation in England and Wales with 250,000 members, has already backed farmers with a postcard campaign.

WI members have been encouraged to send to Downing Street 10,000 specially printed postcards telling the Prime Minister not to sacrifice farming.

That campaign will be widened during the Buy Local fortnight so anyone can sign a virtual postcard on the WI internet site and then e-mail it to Tony Blair.

Jean Armstrong, a WI member from Norfolk, said: “Consumers have an important role to play in saving our farmers and protecting the rural landscape.

“Our members already make a point of buying food directly from local producers wherever possible. However, we will be doing what we can during the fortnight to spread the message to the wider community.”

The WI campaign has been endorsed by sixteen other organisations, including the National Federation of Young Farmers Clubs.

Other supporters include the Tenant Farmers Association, the Small and Family Farmers Alliance and British Independent Fruit Growers Association.

The National Association of Farmers Markets, the Soil Association, the RSPB, and the Land Heritage Trust have also endorsed the campaign.

Rob Brighton, director of the Land Heritage Trust said: “There is an essential need for a long term commitment to the stewardship of the land.”

He added: “Without continued active support, the very future of our rural infrastructure and countryside is at risk.”