5 December 2001
Promotion ‘may save UK farming’
By Tom Allen-Stevens
FARMERS have been told they could be losing the public relations battle because they are underplaying the environmental value of their farms.
“We have an audience, lets use it,” was the message from the last Linking Environment and Farming farm walk of 2001, near Lechlade in Gloucestershire.
“Farmers have been practising key elements of [Integrated Farm Management (IFM)] for years,” said LEAF chairman Robert Campbell.
“However we all need to brand it, formalise it and build on LEAFs own experiences.”
He said that regaining customer confidence was not going to come about through banging the drum for something as “unsexy” as conventional farming.
“IFM captures the imagination of both farmers and consumers, and in order to build bridges, we must shout about it.
“The whole industry has an important part to play and everybody must do their bit,” Mr Campbell stressed.
He went on to unveil LEAFs six-point action plan to improve farmers image.
These range from becoming a LEAF/IFM “Ambassador” to just talking about good farming practice down the pub.
“If everyone in the industry talks to 99 non-farmers, weve got most of the population covered,” he said.
LEAFs chief executive Caroline Drummond said that giving consumers reasons to support UK farming is one of the biggest challenges facing farmers.
“We have an industry to be proud of and we have to market ourselves in innovative ways,” she said.
An example of this is the Virtual Farm Tour, introduced as a result of foot-and-mouth, where a LEAF demonstration farm is encapsulated on a CD-ROM.
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