Charlie Beaty: Now is the time to talk to consumers

There has never been a bigger gap between the people producing food and the people consuming it.

Most people knew a farmer or were even related to one 70 years ago. Today, there are children who have never seen a real sheep.

They have no idea that bread is made from a wheat crop that grows in the fields. It’s a threat to our industry, there’s no doubt.

But it’s also an opportunity to step in, share the “what”, the “why” and the “how” of our industry. So let’s seize it.

See also: Charlie Beaty – forget Veganuary, it’s time for #Februdairy

“But nobody cares where their food comes from, they just want it cheap” – I hear you, I do.

However, I disagree. Social media profiles promoting British agriculture have seen incredible growth this past year.

YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok – platforms with the ability to reach people from all walks of life, and particularly the younger generations – are giving so much opportunity to explain and to educate.

It’s been incredible to see the interaction a lot of farming profiles have been getting recently, with many farmers taking time to promote #LockdownLearning from the farm.

EatFarmNow is a website for farmers to submit short educational videos, which can then be accessed by parents from all walks of life,

The #FarmFromHome tag has been hugely successful on Instagram, linking parents to profiles that are creating content aimed at children.

If social media isn’t your thing, how about Leaf’s (Linking Environment and Farming) FarmerTime initiative?

The scheme pairs farmers with schools to show what is happening on the farm over FaceTime.

Sessions can be weekly, fortnightly, monthly; whatever suits. They usually take 30 minutes  – a short explanation of your chosen topic (lambing, biodiversity, combining, the list is endless…), concluding with a barrage of questions, which have to be stemmed by the teacher before the session interrupts the next lesson.

So, rather than watching the gap grow, why don’t we try filling it?