Recently Professors’ John Wibberley and Malcolm Stansfield undertook a survey of the membership to evaluate the impact of our Awards in motivating excellence for UK agricultural progress and public benefit.
A simple, one side of A4 questionnaire was sent out in January 2017 to all Fellows and Associates of Royal Agricultural Societies in the UK (just over 1200), with a stamped addressed envelope for ease of reply. Members were given over three weeks to respond. Almost 600 responded.
CARAS has yet to distil and consider 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!
- There is a strong sense that this pool of talent needs to be harnessed to impact the public, policy-makers and the research and development agenda more effectively. With BREXIT LOOMING YOU COULD SAY THIS HAS NEVER BEEN MORE IMPORTANT. AGRICULTURE & THE FOOD & FARMING INDUSTRY MUST BE AT THE BREXIT TABLE.
- Though it is recognized that many who hold CARAS awards are already engaged through many other agricultural and rural organizations and thus exert their influence, and already maximize the ‘reach’ of CARAS.
- Also – collectively – members of the Fellowship across the UK do act as independent custodians of the cause of agricultural and rural progress.
At the recent NFU Conference Defra Secretary Andrea Leadsom reiterated the 5 Government Principles: Trade, Productivity/innovation, Environment, Animal Welfare, and Resilience. Crucial these principles are integrated into policy and not allowed to exist in silos.
- Our activities stimulate and encourage further excellence of contributions from its recognized members
- The ‘public understanding’ category – about the understanding of the CARAS scheme by outsiders – was considered deficient by all. Given that applicants are invited – one might question how important it is for outsiders to know about the scheme….?
- On the other hand- if its existence can inspire people in agriculture to aspire to contribute significantly to agricultural progress, then its existence and standards need to be better known.
This is a challenge and your CARAS Council will be considering how to address the findings. Watch this space!
Rosie Carne – Chairman of CARAS