Thursday, November 15, 2018

#YourHarvest campaign highlights importance of arable sector

June 29, 2018 by  
Filed under Crops

Farmers are being urged to invite MPs on to farm this summer as part of a campaign to celebrate the contribution the arable sector makes to the nation’s economy, food supply and environment.

The Your Harvest initiative was launched by the NFU at last month’s Cereals event. It includes a guide for growers to highlight the importance of the sector with MPs and other politicians throughout harvest 2018 and beyond.

The campaign is billed as an opportunity for growers to talk about the millions of tonnes of grain they produce – the raw materials for the UK’s £112bn food and drinks industry – and how farmers take their environmental responsibilities seriously.

British farmers harvest more than 20t of grain annually. Each year, some 11m tonnes are used to produce animal feed which then produces 25bn litres of milk, 10.5bn eggs, 1bn chickens and 10m pigs. Some 11m tonnes of bread are produced daily – made from 85% British wheat.

Brilliant story

NFU combinable crops board chairman Tom Bradshaw is championing the campaign. He said: “The UK arable sector has a brilliant story to tell – and never has there been a more important time to tell it.”

The arable sector would face a fair share of change as the UK left the European Union, particularly around farming’s relationship with the natural environment, said Mr Bradshaw. It was vital that decision-makers realised the importance of the sector.

“As custodians of swathes of our iconic British countryside, arable farmers have embraced the environment – through the widespread adoption of integrated approaches to controlling pests and diseases and the planting of hedgerows and hundreds of acres of wildflowers mixes.”

Mr Bradshaw added: “I’m urging every arable farmer to spare two hours of their harvest to host a farm visit with an MP, to use the facts and statistics in the guide and champion the industry that I know we’re all proud to work in.”

Shout loudly

NFU external affairs manager Liv Phoenix, who has been working with the communications and crops team on the campaign, said the union would holding an event in parliament on 18 July to further impress upon politicians the need to support the cereals sector.

Outlining a number of tips when communicating with MPs, Ms Phoenix added: “It is really important for members to get involved with this campaign and shout as loudly as possible about the excellent work taking place on arable farms.”

Growers hosting visits should be clear about what you want to talk to them about by focusing on a particular issue or problem – and explain concisely why this is important. Rather than being negative, they should be positive and propose solutions.

Farmers should also follow up with the MP to say thank you and to send them any additional information. The NFU says this will go a long way in building a relationship for the longer term, which will be much more valuable than a one-off meeting.

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