12 November 1999


The chairman has changed but the Womens Food and

Farming Union objectives remain the same as

Tessa Gates heard at the agm held in London

THERE was a touch of déjà-vu in the air at the agm of the Womens Food and Farming Union. One of the first tasks facing members when the WFU was founded in 1979 was to campaign against the illegal dumping of foreign imports. Twenty years later France is causing them to protest yet again.

"We are currently doing the same things as those original members did with Golden Delicious apples – boycotting French goods," said outgoing chairman Meg Stroude. "WFUs original aims and objectives remain as valid and relevant as ever."

It was an sentiment echoed by new chairman Janet Godfrey, who affirmed that the organisation would continue to promote British produce. She warned that consumers, politicians and the media have short memories and could soon forget any fervour for buying British when the current furore over the French ban on British beef subsides. "We must ensure that we continue to produce the best products and get this across to consumer, who still continues to buy on price. We must convince the consumer to buy on quality," said Mrs Godfrey

&#42 Husbands idea

The new chairman became involved with the WFU in the early 90s at the suggestion of her husband, Jim, a Lincolnshire farmer. He had seen WFU members at work at a meeting he attended in his role as chairman of the Potato Marketing Board. "He came home and told me to join," says Mrs Godfrey, who soon got involved through her Lincolnshire branch.

The WFU has just under 1000 members. "It is the network of women across the country that is important. By keeping them better informed on issues they can support the industry and who better when they are out shopping to ask where is the British bacon?"

A key task for members is getting a balanced message about farming to school children through speakers, videos and teachers packs. Mrs Godfrey is an Ofsted inspector and as a frequent visitor to schools has been quite alarmed at the almost total ignorance of areas such as dairy farming shown by teachers and the anti-farming message many primary school children are receiving in class.

British farmers and growers have never been more in need of an organisation like the WFU, she said, and promised that members would continue to lobby on their behalf.

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