I feel so privileged to have been the Chairman of CARAS and look back over my two year term with great affection. The highlights have undoubtedly been the Awards presentations at – in calendar date order- the House of Lords for England, the Balmoral Show for Northern Ireland, the Royal Highland Show for Scotland and the Royal Welsh Show for Wales. Reading the applications and citations for our newly recognised Associates and Fellows should give our industry great confidence in the wealth of creative talent we have in the farming industry. Talent which needs to be harnessed to effectively impact the public, policy-makers and the research and development agenda.
It is very worrying to read that so far there has been a lack of farming representation in the meetings arranged with the UK Department for International Trade (DIT). A real fear that new trade deals could be at the expense of domestic producers. When choosing to buy British food, British consumers can have confidence in the safety, quality and high standards of animal welfare in the production of that food. Food grown with environmental responsibility. This confidence in safe food could be diluted if trade liberalisation and a move to global commodity trading and the reduction or elimination of trade barriers is encouraged to: “get a deal”.
I know that each National panel has arranged a 2017 programme of visits, meetings and conferences- please support them and think how best to promote the findings to take our industry forward – vital, if current agricultural productivity is to flourish to feed the needs of the future. Recently Professors’ John Wibberley and Malcolm Stansfield undertook a survey of the membership to evaluate the impact of these Awards in motivating excellence for UK agricultural progress and public benefit. CARAS has yet to distil the findings but what I can share with you in advance is: “In all cases, the aspect of enjoyment of their membership rated consistently highly!”
Many of you are industry leaders already actively involved in our industry’s future – please mobilise our network of members – who were “recognized for personal contribution – to the understanding, further efficiency and well-being of agriculture, and land-based industries within the UK”. The Secretary of State Andrea Leadsum has declared five Government Principles: Trade, Productivity/innovation, Environment, Animal Welfare, and Resilience. It is crucial these principles are integrated and not allowed to exist in separate silos. We all can be part of delivering the best solution.
In April 2017 I pass the Chairman’s ‘baton’ (actually a beautiful enamel badge) to Terrig Morgan to lead our organisation for the next two years. As I write, Article 50 has not been triggered but by the time you read this it probably has been and we are in the uncertain times of BREXIT negotiations.
Talk of fractured relations between Westminster and the other National administrations can only make things worse….. It is so important the UK food and farming industry remains together, speaking with one voice.
Rosie Carne BSc FRAgS FGAJ
Chairman of CARAS 2015-2017