What a busy time I have had lately, dashing around the country representing AFS/Red Tractor.
It has been really interesting to get out and about and hear views from fellow farmers on how we can develop the brand and all work together the help promote our great British produce.
Thankfully, Dame Lucy Neville Rolfe has been appointed as the fantastic new chairwoman of the Red Tractor board.
Now more than ever we will need to get behind our brand, not only to fight off imports into our home market, but also to greatly assist in giving credibility to our export drive.
The question is how do we fund this challenge? At one meeting the question posed to us farmers was what our farm’s annual marketing budget was. After all, even the local shop spends an element of cash on marketing or promotion.
When other well-known brands spend more on promotion than the whole of the UK farming industry, there must be something terribly wrong.
Two to do the job
While on the issue of buying British, has anyone tried to buy a British-made and affordable 4×4 that is capable of doing some real work recently?
Our traditional suppliers seem to have deserted us in favour of supplying Chelsea tractors and spray-on mud to those who will never take them off road or pull a trailer.
Admittedly, if you are prepared to spend a small fortune you will get a vehicle capable of doing the job, with all of the comforts that one could possibly imagine.
Rather than compromise on my principles and move away from the British brand that has brought so many vehicles to our farms to be so abused over many years, I have had to buy two vehicles.
One cost £400 and will do the real work such as checking the cows and pulling the trailer, while the other, for considerably more expense, will be used to cruise up and down the roads.
I dare say I had best not actually risk taking it off road because that will just test Land Rovers’ reliability to its limit.
Indeed, if it is anything like as reliable as the Freelander has been, then I have, yet again, made a mistake in buying it.
I do wish you all a very merry Christmas and let’s hope our futures become much clearer at some point next year.
Andrew Blenkiron manages the 4,400ha Euston Estate, south of Thetford. Principal farm enterprises are combinable and root crops, including sugar beet. In addition the estate supports let land, sheep, outdoor pigs, poultry, suckler cows, horses and stewardship.