Back British Farming! That’s our over-riding message – whether it’s to the public, Government or any policy holder who‘s decisions impact our farming businesses.
It’s the sixth year of the NFU’s big campaign ‘Back British Farming Day’, which is always held in September. The aim is to drive support for the British food and farming sector through simple actions like buying British produce, enjoying the countryside responsibly, and spreading the word with friends and family.
Why is this important?
The UK food and farming industry contributes more than £120 billion to the UK economy, with our farmers producing the raw ingredients for the food industry. Here in the South West (SW) we have over 1.7 million hectares of farmed land – that’s 1,700,000 rugby pitches! Every SW farm trades with an average of 48 other businesses, whether that’s tractor dealerships, animal feed companies or vets. The farmed landscape also makes a key contribution to the tourism industry by managing our glorious countryside. All in all, the value of farming to the South West’s economy stands at a gross output of £4 billion and a gross value added of £1.6 billion. So, yes it is important!
Reasons to be proud
This year on our Back British Farming Day on Wednesday 15th September, Jeremy Clarkson joined the NFU and thousands of farmers and growers, MPs, celebrities and members of the general public to take part in the annual celebration of British farming. You may have seen farming champions across the nation using the hashtag #BackBritishFarmingDay on social media with videos and pictures of why they were proud to produce the nation’s food. And quite right they are to be proud – British farmers produce some of the best food in the world. Not only is it delicious and nutritious, but it’s produced to incredibly high environmental, animal welfare, traceability, and food safety standards – something not every country is able to say.
Yet, over the past few years the country has watched its self- sufficiency drop from 78% in the mid-1980s to its current level of just 60%. As an island nation very well suited for quality food production, it would be a mistake to become even more reliant on the rest of the world to feed us. We would encourage you to add your support to our letter to George Eustice, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and ask him to keep food self-sufficiency levels above 60%: Help secure the future of British farming.
If our government truly backs the potential of British food and farming, the country could see huge benefits. British farmers could increase the industry’s economic contribution and provide more nutritious, affordable, climate-friendly British food for UK shoppers while bolstering domestic food security.
The Cheese Festival.
Our local office in Sturminster Newton was delighted to be supporting the Sturminster Newton Cheese Festival again the weekend before Back British Farming Day. The Festival has raised over £100,000 for local charities and organisations.
We were delighted that Dorset Tractors & Agricultural Equipment – CJ Cox Agricultural Engineers donated to our stand their striking pink tractor and the Gillingham & Shaftesbury Show their enormous floor tractor puzzles! Alongside our wooden milking cow “Daisy” we were able to entertain and talk farming to people of all ages and show where your food comes from, whether its wheat becoming bread, barley becoming beer or oats becoming your porridge.
Louise Stratton NFU Dorset County Adviser
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