By Gary Ford, NFU chief poultry advisor
One of the positives that has come out of the intense focus on chlorinated chicken the past month has been how our high standards here in the UK have really been thrust into the spotlight.
We may often be guilty of taking how we operate here in the UK for granted and it’s important we value and shout about the strengths of our industry.
Particularly with Brexit looming, it has never been more crucial to tell politicians and the public about our high standards and the value we deliver for the economy and the country.
One of the fantastic parts of my job is being able to represent one of the most efficient and productive sectors of UK agriculture to not just wider industry, but beyond. When I tell people that the poultry industry produces 13% of the agricultural output from only 1% of the land, they’re amazed.
It’s something we need to continue talking about, particularly when we are often faced with campaigns against certain methods or systems of production.
Readers will be all too familiar with campaigns over the years that have attempted to pressure retailers into changing what standards they will accept on poultry products.
For the NFU, we have always been consistent that it is not farm size or system that determines animal health and welfare, but the quality of animal husbandry and stockmanship.
Animal health and welfare is the top priority for all farmers and through advances in our industry, this has never been better.
Poultry meat farms in the UK implement stocking densities far lower than EU requirements, antibiotic use has declined by over 80% in the past six years in the poultry meat sector and advancements in genetics mean that birds now have the best health they ever have.
We are fortunate that our industry has significant retailer support and that they value the standards we produce to, underpinned by the Red Tractor.
In ever-changing times, it is vital that we champion our industry and our world-leading standards, and the NFU will continue to be at the forefront of delivering that message.