Having grown up on a fourth-generation livestock farm just outside Harrogate, farming has been at the forefront of my life. I have always enjoyed the science behind livestock production, some of my earliest memories include creating my own feed blends for my pet sheep. Luckily my knowledge of nutrition has improved since!
My passion for Agriculture led me to study Agriculture with Animal Production Science at Newcastle University. After graduating last summer with a 1st Class BSc Degree I gained a place on the Morrisons Manufacturing Graduate Scheme, with a focus on working in different roles across the business. Morrisons is unique in buying livestock direct from British farmers, running abattoirs and meat processing operations, and as a result we see the whole process from field to fork. It means we build strong relationships with farmers and we know exactly where our meat comes from.
I continue to work on the farm in any spare time and holidays. Currently we are in the midst of lambing season and are extremely grateful we are experiencing (almost) t-shirt weather compared to last year when the ‘Beast from the East’ created a raft of challenges.
As part of the Future Farmers of Yorkshire group I gained the opportunity to attend the NFU Conference “Our Food, Our Future”, in February which was held at The ICC in Birmingham. The event is an opportunity to hear about the work the NFU is doing for our industry.
This two-day event gave me a helpful insight into the challenges UK farmers could face as UK agriculture is facing momentous changes in government policy and changing consumer needs, which will continue throughout my career. For me the highlight of the conference was when Minette Batters, NFU President, spoke with Michael Gove, Defra Secretary of State. She clearly explained the importance of our domestic food supply and urged Gove to ensure tariffs would remain as they are to safeguard UK Agriculture from food produced to much lower standards outside the UK.
There were many interesting comments about the food market such as Jack Bobo of American biotech company Intrexon Corporation, who stated “consumers have never cared more, nor known less, about how their food is produced.” With social media continuing to influence customers, and technology changing the way our food is produced, education has an important part to play in explaining how our food supply chain works. Hopefully we might see Agriculture included in the National Curriculum soon.
Reassurance to livestock farmers came from Nathan Ward of Kantar Worldpanel, who was presenting meat sales data. He stated that meat sales had not been affected by the Veganuary campaign this year, which surprised many in the room given the vast amount of media attention the campaign received.
I believe the focus for the UK livestock industry must be to tell our story, to promote the health benefits of meat and to shout about our world-leading welfare and production standards.
Despite feeling a sense of uncertainty among delegates from every stage of the supply chain, I could not help but feel inspired by their commitment to our industry, and a slight sense of excitement at the opportunities these changes could create. I really hope that customers and the Government will back British farming given the challenges it faces. It has so many important points of difference, not least its record in offering a safe and traceable food supply chain.
The Future Farmers of Yorkshire was launched in 2010 to bring together like-minded farmers, vets and industry supporters. Since then the group has been joined by over 1,000 forward thinking members eager to grow their knowledge and careers. We support them by providing a platform for debate and the sharing of ideas. Future Farmers is supported by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society.
Written by Alice Liddle