07 September 1998
Farming in the national news? — Stand together and be counted
THE time has come to stand up and be counted. We have met, we have marched, we have voted and paid levies and subscriptions, and yet with one 30-minute programme the BBC or ITV can do more damage to the whole industry and undo all the good any scheme or work we or our representatives have done in a whole year.
We in the farming industry have a responsibility to let the consumer know more about the benefits of farm produce, its availability and how it is produced.
There is much debate about assurance schemes and the merit they possess, but one thing is for sure – at least when you walk around the farm with an assessor there is no hidden film crew. Problem areas can still be rectified.
British farmers have invested thousands of pounds in recent years to put themselves at the front of European food production, Many farms are now opening up to the general consumer. LEAF, Groundwork and the NFU are running very good scheme, to help educate the message to the consumer. Moreover, these schemes must be applauded; each organisation vets each farm before taking people around, offering advice where needed.
Television programmes are very effective and can do untold damage to the whole of the farming and countryside sector. However, if done constructively, could they not show great benefit?
I am writing to ask farmers across the country to help, whether they are pig, poultry or dairy farmers, arable, mixed or organic farmers, or have a farm shop, butchers shop or a blacksmiths business. Working the land and producing food is what we countrymen are all proud of – let us invite the television crews on to our farms so that we can educate the educators
Let us show that hundreds – even thousands – of British farmers are prepared to invite TV cameras on to their premises because they have nothing to hide and nothing to be ashamed of.
We can then present the director-general of the BBC with a list of all those farms which would welcome “investigation”. And we could ask him why TV programmes such as the one this week carefully avoided all of them?
If you would like more information on the scheme run by
LEAF, NFU and Groundwork please let me know.