By Matt Donald, pig & poultry farmer, north Yorkshire
With increasing signs our government would prefer to export our food production, combined with some supermarkets opting for cheap imports on the shelves, it is vital as producers we stand up and shout about our industry and agriculture in general. It is great to see the #BiteintoBritish campaign running across all forms of social media, this can be anything from British chicken to a steak or an apple, so long as it bears the union jack. This campaign is gaining momentum as I write, and I encourage everyone to get on board.
The poultry industry is part of the solution to sustainable food production and it is vital that message is heard out there and consumers are kept informed. It would appear there is increasing demand for British products from the public, so retailers must do their part to limit imports. Following the COP26 event it’s vital home-grown food is prioritised if we are to meet net zero, but unfortunately some of those making the decisions fail to realise the importance of local production. Annual declines in food self-sufficiency do not help to lower carbon emissions. We can produce food to net zero standards, but if we are not monitoring the footprint of imports, we are just exporting our carbon.
It is frustrating seeing other young farmers number crunching to see if investment in poultry projects can be justified based on current prices, labour shortages or confidence in meat as food. The fantastic poultry sector we have today is built on great people, with a sustained investment over time. We cannot allow this to pause now, as it would halt the potential of our industry going forwards. These young people would also be a lost asset if they were to slowly leave the industry in search of something else; support from each part of the supply chain is crucial to prevent this.