Are we losing the fight? You’d be forgiven for thinking so.
As a dairy farmer, I’m well versed with the recent media trolling and fake news surrounding my profession. But it’s starting to wear thin and, quite frankly, emotive arguments are difficult to counter.
The question I recently found myself asking is “does anyone really care?” The Oscars, where Joaquin Phoenix took a pop at the dairy sector, had its lowest TV audience on record.
The much celebrated Veganuary signed up 400,000 people – less than 1% of the population. To put it in perspective, 500,000 people are in air transit globally at any one point in time.
How much effort is spent chasing the 1%? Perhaps we need to withdraw from the battle in order to win the war.
Social media is by far our biggest tool, but we’re using it wrong. The majority of all anti-farming propaganda is actually spread by our own industry being outraged by it and commenting on it.
So how do we get the British public back on side and realise that British agriculture is currently the most secure, safest and climate-friendly system of food production in the world?
It’s clear our food system has been overtaken by a plutocracy – big businesses wants part of what we do.
So how do we counter the big advertising budgets that bolt themselves onto our well-established food system?
The direction of travel has to change. Agriculture has become the byword for climate change. Even the most educated could be forgiven for believing the media circus.
Greenhouse gas levels are rising as a direct result of the burning of fossil fuels for energy and an increasing global population.
That’s the hard reality and, short of advocating genocide or the collapse of capitalism, this is fixed. Population will grow and people will want heat, light and luxuries.
That same population needs to eat, and as yet there is no better way to do that than agriculture. In the UK, the most efficient and nature-friendly way to a balanced, stable, healthy food supply is livestock.
It’s almost by accident that this same system can also play a major part in countering rising carbon dioxide emissions, but the UK is a small island in a massive pond and, ultimately, the steps we take will have little effect on the global problem.
That said, the leadership we could show in the UK could be the blueprint for the world in reversing climate change.
But this effort will all be in vain if all we do is export our climate responsibilities and undermine our home food economy.
So how do we get the British public back on side and realise that British agriculture is currently the most secure, safest and climate-friendly system of food production in the world? We need to prove it.
Perhaps our fight back in the media should begin by admitting global agriculture does have a problem.
For me, even some methods here in the UK have a problem, but we are taking steps to look at our environmental effects, record it and improve on it.
But any improvements we make now are lost, as we have no benchmark for success. Current science isn’t up to speed.
We need leadership and collaborative thinking to drive agriculture forward, because in a new world of open borders, we’ll need every marketing tool we have at our disposal.
So, in answer to my first question, are we losing the fight? No, I don’t think we’ve even joined the war.