NFU representatives launched the campaign this week (May 21) with a farm-themed river boat trip down the Thames, which ended at the House of Commons. There they handed MPs a report on the importance of agriculture’s contribution to the economy.
Peter Kendall, NFU president, said: ”We have identified six key areas where farming plays a unique and important role: producing food, looking after the environment, kick-starting economic growth, producing cleaner energy, providing exciting new careers, and world-class animal welfare standards.”
Fran Barnes, head of strategic communications told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “We received a really, really positive reception. Caroline Spelman [secretary of state for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] addressed representatives from supermarkets, the media and the farming sector.”
The campaign will feature the Red Tractor quality mark, which has been designed to assure standards covering food safety and hygiene, animal welfare and environmental protection.
“Nobody’s naive enough to think that an increase in sales of British produce will be purely down to our campaign,” said Barnes. “It’s very hard to measure an awareness-raising campaign but we can assess its impact via public surveys, environmental indicators, increases in exports, applications to agricultural colleges and whether the skills gap is being met.”
The campaign will run from between three to five years.
The NFU has created a range of downloadable online resources, including promotional materials, which explain the benefits farming delivers to consumers and recipes.
The activity builds on positive media reports of the success of British farmers, who have reported a boom in business despite the downturn.
Government figures show that the agriculture and horticulture sector of the economy grew by 25% last year, according to the NFU.
Farmers say they are selling more produce overseas and farming now represents the UK’s fourth largest exporting sector.
The gross value added contribution that farmers and growers made to the economy grew by £1.75bn, taking the total to about £8bn.
Meanwihile this week, Waitrose reported record sales of English wine.