Farmers must engage better with the public to prevent their views being drowned out by the anti-farming lobby, according to NFU deputy president Minette Batters.
She fears farmers’ role as custodians of the land is being taken away from them and urged farmers to improve communication with the public to secure a better future for the industry.
“There is a strong lobby out there and the danger of course is that government ever more frequently is listening to the anti-farming lobby, with farmers ultimately paying the price,” said Mrs Batters, speaking at the Montgomeryshire NFU Cymru county conference.
“Supermarkets are here to stay, but we’ve got to use them to promote us and gain support for us and our produce.”
Minette Batters, NFU deputy president
“A sustainable, productive agricultural industry is a critical but often undervalued asset for the UK and as our population increases, diet evolves and climate changes, we will become increasingly dependent on our agricultural land for food production.
“The techniques of how we lobby as an industry are changing at a pace. What we need to do is turn the wheel – there is tremendous public support and interest in food and in what we as farmers do, so let’s embrace this and engage more with the public, get them on side, and then with their support we can look forward to a better future for our industry.”
See also: Public opinion of farmers is on the up
Mrs Batters said farmers should reach out to children so people learn about the fundamentals of food and farming early in their lives.
She highlighted the present dairy crisis and said the British food chain needed to “put its money where its mouth is” and pay farmers a sustainable price for their produce.
“Supermarkets are here to stay, but we’ve got to use them to promote us and gain support for us and our produce,” she added.
Mrs Batters also called on government, UK processors, retailers and levy bodies to support farmers to ensure a long-term sustainable future for domestic production.
Jonathan Wilkinson, NFU Cymru’s Montgomeryshire county chairman, said: “These are challenging times at the moment; all commodities are suffering, but we have a good story to tell and one way we can do this is through harnessing the power of social media.
“Let’s use it to tell the industry’s stories in its own words while reaching an entirely new audience in the process.”