The high standards of British agriculture will be heralded at a London rally organised by the NFU in a bid to make the Government think twice about allowing food into the UK which is produced to lesser standards in any trade deal. By undertaking a programme of effective stakeholder communications, the farming and food community is set to raise awareness and deliver the results and assurances they need.
The rally, on March 25 at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre, Westminster, aims to secure a commitment that UK standards will be safeguarded in trade deals to be negotiated this year with Europe and the rest of the world.
It will feature speeches from environmental and consumer spokespeople, animal welfare professionals and farming leaders. The message is that UK farmers produce safe, traceable food and this excellence must not be sacrificed in the necessity to strike free trade deals.
MPs will be invited and the event will undoubtedly put pressure on Government to avoid kow-towing to other countries. The Conservative manifesto also pledged to not jeopardise UK animal welfare standards; further influence comes from a letter to the Prime Minister signed by over 60 groups including the RSPCA and Soil Association urging the protection of food standards.
Farming is not generally an industry which takes to the streets of the capital to make demands. There’s a swathe of public support for maintaining our food standards and not allowing items such as chlorinated chicken and hormone-fed beef into the UK. The unpalatable history of big landowners receiving the largest subsidy payments is now receding, which may also generate support for the industry as it adjusts to provide public goods in return for subsidy payments: this bedrock of support lessens the potential for cries of self-interest to be levelled at farmers.
The publicity campaign surrounding the rally has already succeeded in highlighting the standards of UK farming and coverage in the weeks before the event could add further weight: the power of the campaign will undoubtedly exert pressure on Government.
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