News release

20 December 2002

 

 

Help relieve the farming crisis in 2003

New Year’s Resolutions from farm

 

farm, the new farming campaign, has drawn up a set of New Year’s Resolutions offering everyone, wherever they sit in the food-chain, a chance to do something positive to ease the crisis in farming.  There are Resolutions for farmers themselves, for consumers, for the Government (Yes, you can do more, Mr Blair and Mrs Beckett!) – and even supermarkets get a chance to help.

 

Robin Maynard, farm’s national coordinator, said: “Since farm launched just seven weeks ago we’ve been swamped with offers of support.  Our overall New Year’s Resolution is to respond to that interest and deliver on the expectations people have for us – but that can’t be done overnight.  These Resolutions offer something everyone can do to help ease the pressures forcing farmers off the land.”

 

John Sherrell, a founder member of farm whose family runs a small, mixed farm in Devon added,  “All of us in farm are determined to stop the Government sacrificing our farming industry on the altar of free trade.  As a new and still growing organisation, it would be naove to presume we can do this on our own.  A key mission for farm is to build public and consumer support behind our campaign for a real future for farming.  Our New Year’s Resolutions are one small step on this path.”

 

The New Year’s Resolutions will be up on www.farm.org.uk from 23 Dec. to 6 Jan.

For further information, or to arrange interviews with farm’s national coordinator and farmer board members, please contact Sarah Finch on

01737 765679 or 07870 823485 or see www.farm.org.uk

 

Note to Editors:

farm is a new organisation formed by a group of working farmers and professional campaigners and launched on November 4th, 2002. Photos are available of farm board members and of farm’s launch outside the DEFRA HQ.


New Year’s Resolutions from farm

 

Farmers

 

With at least 11 farmers going out of business every day, farmers are fast becoming an endangered species – if we’re to halt this exodus, we need all the allies we can get.  Remember, good PR starts with each individual farmer. 

7         Drop old prejudices and stereotypes! You might find some unexpected new friends…

Your local consumer and environmental groups could be more on farmers’ side than you think.  Just last month, Friends of the Earth published a poll of shoppers showing that nearly two thirds (63%) thought supermarkets didn’t pay farmers fair prices.  And 84% of shoppers thought supermarkets should sell UK seasonal produce in preference to imported competing food.

7         Welcome walkers and talk to them about the trauma underneath the green and pleasant surface of the countryside:

With a bit more understanding on both sides, those ramblers might lend an educated boot up the backside of  those driving the farm crisis. 

7         Don’t suffer in silence.  Tell your story:

To friends and family.  In your local paper.  Through farm’s website.  The public needs to know that the crisis in farming is genuine, the scale of it, and who’s behind it. Real stories from real people can’t be dismissed as the usual ‘whingeing farmers’ stereotype.

 

Consumers

 

Use your power:

Remember it was ordinary, individual shoppers, refusing to buy GM food that halted the ambitions of Monsanto, one of the biggest agribusinesses in the world, to get their GM soya into foodstuffs on supermarket shelves.

Don’t let yourself be used as an excuse for a ‘cheap food’ policy that only serves the interests of profiteering middlemen and multinational companies: 

7         Buy nationally and, where possible, regionally and locally produced food. 

7         Go to a farmers’ market, to buy local produce, but also to meet the people who produce your food.

7         Put a note into your supermarket’s suggestion box asking them to stock more locally sourced produce and to buy from the UK where possible.

7         When buying essential imports like tea, coffee, chocolate and bananas, choose fairly traded brands – and if your local supermarket doesn’t stock them, ask why not.

 

Government

 

Do your job, govern: That means regulating companies and markets which if left to their own devices will fleece both farmers and consumers. 

7         Get out of your atmosphere-controlled offices, put on some wellies and go out and visit some farmers in the field:

 Meet the people and the way of life that’s disappearing a little bit more day by day.

7         Take up Nature Studies:

Farms aren’t simply factories producing widgets. Their diversity is vital in sustaining rural economies and maintaining wildlife and landscapes.

7         Be even-handed:

If you’re determined to slash subsidies, then how about slashing those paid out by taxpayers to the nuclear, defence, aviation and road transport industries?

7         Special Resolution for Mrs Beckett, Ms Short, Mr Blair and not forgetting Lord Haskins -  Practice what you Preach:

If you’re so convinced that the world market you want our farmers to compete in is truly ‘free’ and ‘fair’– then put yourselves in the position you’re placing UK farmers in.  We could import cheaper politicians from overseas – but would they be raised to the same standard as home-grown varieties? 

 

Supermarkets

 

Know when Enough is Enough: Do you really need to cut margins and increase profits year in, year out?

Tesco – you made #1 billion in 2001, wasn’t #3.47 million profit every day more than enough?  Stop hiding behind your shareholders and take ethical trading and fair pricing seriously before your competitors do.  You know that every little helps!

Sainsburys – on announcing record profits recently you were quoted stating you wanted to cut your supplier costs by a further 5%.  We hope that doesn’t mean cutting farm-gate prices even closer to the bone?

7         Share the booty with those who make you rich – pay your producers fair prices without whacking up prices to shoppers.

7         Label produce with Food Miles – otherwise someone might do it for you… and while we’re on labelling – how about putting the farmgate price alongside the selling price for fresh fruit, veg and meat.  Now that’s transparency in the food-chain!

7         Prioritise British produce in season, and set up schemes to sell local and regional produce.