James Herrick: Now’s the time to respond to our critics

It is my belief that agriculture, like politics, thrives from having a strong and healthy opposition.

It is often the catalyst needed to incite progress and change within the sector, driving new thinking and in some cases bolstering the old.

I, like most, find it hard to listen to opposing points of view, especially when they seem like a direct attack on our way of life or production methods.

See also: James Herrick – we need to play our part in sustainability

About the author

James Herrick
James Herrick is based on his family’s suckler beef and arable farm in Leicestershire. A passionate conservationist, he’s keen on using technology to maximise agriculture’s profitability and lessen its impact on the environment. Away from the farm he likes to compete in triathlons and endurance races.
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But the ability to listen is starting to become more essential to keep agriculture relevant in the public eye.

Lately I have noticed that many within farming and the wider industry have an uncanny ability of living in the echo chambers and preaching to the converted.

Agriculture is constantly striving to evolve and tackle issues that are driving consumer habits, such as greenhouse gas emissions, climate change and sustainability.

Yet I fear very little of that information is permeating to those who need to hear it most – our customers.

It doesn’t take much scrolling through social media to find British agriculture being tarred with the same brush as overseas practices focusing solely on mass production by any means.

So we have a responsibility to tell anyone who will listen about what sets us apart from the crowd, and draw some delineations between us and other parts of the world.

If nothing else, the role we will play in the next 30 years or so in reducing the effects of climate change on the planet is often understated.

We are a pivotal part of an increasingly complex jigsaw and we should not allow that to go unnoticed.

I applaud schemes such as the Farmer Time initiative for inspiring and educating young people about the industry.

They may not decide to choose a career in agriculture, but these youngsters could be our future policymakers and we would do well to remember that.

It would be an understatement to suggest that British agriculture has been through some hard times, and there will undoubtedly be more to come.

But we are renowned for our stoic resilience, and I believe the industry is on the verge of achieving some truly incredible things.