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Nuffield - Giving Agriculture A Voice

01 November 2011

UK - Communication was one of the most talked about topics at this year's Nuffield Scholarship conference. Scholars discussed their research into areas including; media and consumer communication with farmers, the value of farming and the challenges farmers face, reports Lucy Towers, TheCattleSite Newsdesk Assistant.

Held in Grantham, the 2011 conference first saw Adam West present his findings from his research project titled 'Championing British Agriculture'. Mr West stressed that farmers need to be valued by the public, something that is under constant strain due to the increasing political influence from animal welfare pressure groups.

"Adapt and innovate" was the message delivered by Mr West on how to overcome these challenges. Mr West's research identified different innovative projects being used around the world to try and increase the awareness of the importance of farming by linking farmers and the community.

For example, the Centre for Food Integrity, in the US, was set up in 2007 by Charlie Arnot, in order to build consumer confidence in the food industry.

In the UK, Mr West is interested in setting up something similar, to engage the public in agriculture.

Similarly, Clare Greener is trying to enhance the understanding of the agricultural industry through local politics. In her report 'Achieving agricultural policies to meet global challenges', she discussed how her political role with the National Farmers' Union (NFU) has allowed for her to promote the UK agriculture industry, giving it a voice.

Ms Greener also stated that in other countries such as the US, there has been great development of next generation leadership through work with young farmers. She identifies that the UK, however, is lacking in this area and therefore needs to develop agriculture promotion. Through her continued political work she hopes to achieve this.

Connecting farmers with the public was also part of the message delivered by freelance journalist, Caroline Stocks. Her report, 'Knowledge transfer to farmers', discussed the advantages of connecting farmers and consumers through social media.

Her discussion presented the idea that twitter, blogs and mobile phones can provide farmers with not only the answers they need but also a discussion forum. She highlighted that twitter has provided a place for farmers to talk with experts, consumers and vice versa.

She did however note that information can be lost and is hard to obtain due to the slightly chaotic nature of twitter and blogs. In response to this, Ms Stocks said that forums need to be developed and farmers, consumers and experts should be encouraged to take part in these media debates which are shaping the way news is delivered.

Over the last 60 years, the Nuffield Farming Scholarships Trust has provided over 800 people - with a background in agriculture, its associated industries and the rural community - the chance to travel to expand their knowledge and understanding.

TheCattleSite News Desk



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