By Aimee Mahony, chief poultry advisor, NFU
I’m writing this at the start of week two in my new position as Chief Poultry Adviser and I’m delighted to take the lead in this exciting role at such a crucial time for UK agriculture. I’m eager to begin work to steer the focus and leadership in the poultry sector at such a critical time and will be sharing my priorities in the coming weeks.
On that note, I am keen to hit the ground running following recent success with the phenomenal backing of public support for British food and farming, which saw over one million signatures on the NFU’s food standards petition. On the back of this high-profile campaign, the NFU successfully lobbied for the establishment of a Commission on food standards to help address the challenges of safeguarding the high production standards of British farmers.
The Trade and Agriculture Commission will advise the government on trade policies it should adopt to ensure animal welfare and environmental standards are not undermined and that will secure opportunities for UK farmers. These key areas could have a severe impact on our industry. The egg market, for example, is worth over £1billion in sales each year alone but this would be severely hit by trade deals allowing the import of eggs produced to standards that fall far below what is expected of British farmers. This is something I was able to relay to a wider audience in an article which featured in the Mail on Sunday in June.
One of the biggest challenges we all face is consumer perception and it is increasingly important to bring the consumer on the journey of food production with us. The poultry sector is particularly very market driven and we need consumers to realise and relate to the existing high standards that UK poultry farmers produce to.
Recently, the latest Farmer Favourability Survey, conducted by OnePoll, showed that support for British food and farming has reached a record high as a result of farmers’ efforts to keep the nation fed throughout the coronavirus pandemic. The survey revealed that 75% of people voiced a positive view of UK farming, which is the highest figure since OnePoll started carrying out the annual survey in 2012. This shows the public really do care about where their food comes from, maybe now more than ever, and I see this as a golden opportunity to encourage more shoppers to Back British Farming.
Looking back, it has been a whirlwind month and I am excited about what the future holds and making the most of the opportunities we have to bring the public with us to help protect our food standards in the UK.