Close to 300,000 visitors will descend on British farms on June 9. I dreamed up खुले खेत रविवार (ओएस) कुछ 14 साल पहले. Its purpose is to build trust and bust misconceptions, bringing से जनता closer करने के लिए किसानों और create an event worthy of media fanfare.
Although OFS will address many of the challenges specific to the United Kingdom, it holds lessons for farmers everywhere—and shows that when we tell our stories, we improve our reputation and prospects.
Managed by the charity LEAF, which stands for “Linking Environment and Farming," OFS has become the largest single-day visitor event in the UK. Farms up and down the country, big and small welcome the public. We showcase the toil, wonder, और प्रौद्योगिकी of production and biodiversity कि farming delivers for गुइ country and the countryside. Whilst corporate व्यवसायों see a need to hire spin डॉक्टरों and public-relations juggernauts करने के लिए greenwash their environmental credentials and allegiance to the sustainability of the planet, farmers open their gates. Honesty and openness कर रहे हैं an easy sell.
क्या other industry can boast 400 व्यवसायों (खेतों) और 7,000 helpers (neighbouring farmers, husbands, wives, और local volunteers)? वे givइ अप not only a रविवार, but also दिन devoted to preparation—all to offer visitors a free day out.
It’s media manna. Television, प्रिंट मीडिया, even Britain's longest running radio soap, “The Archers," trumpet the merits and euphoria surrounding our ओएस. In a world of turmoil, we all enjoy some uplifting cheer.
Job done? अच्छी तरह से, not quite.
When OFS began, farmers were pushing at an open door. को media वापस तो broadcast केवल one story के British farming: a bad one. A portrayal के dirty farms peddling poor husbandry and a disregard for the countryside. The reality couldn’t have been more different—and now we’re enjoying a sea change in attitudes. Farmers have forged a much stronger relationship with the media. को बीबीसी's flagship Sunday night programme about rural issues draws up to 7 million viewers. Niche food, provenance, and country wear brands are in vogue. Farmers एकre once again seen as hard-working friends of environmental stewardship and sustainability, not the subsidy–grabbing foes of thriving habitats.
Yet a huge new challenge looms. On Halloween, British farming could turn into a pumpkin—because ब्रिटेन is scheduled यूरोपीय संघ को छोड़ करने के लिए अक्टूबर को 31. In what has become एक divisive, protracted, and shambolic process, ब्रिटेन's departure from the EU asks more questions than it answers for its farmers. Running parallel to Brexit, a new एकgriculture बीill is chugging its way through Parliament. We don’t know much के को detail surrounding the future of agricultural support या trade arrangements with countries inside and outside of the EU.
Farming in Britain is going to come under a lot of pressure. A cut in फ़ार्म support looks inevitable, as do some adverse tariffs or duties.
डब्ल्यूe have two choices. Join the race to the bottom and try and compete पर मूल्य with countries कि have much lower costs of productions या make a compelling story as to why choosing British food at the checkout marks एक commitment to food quality, a healthy environment, और एक vibrant landscape.
Michael Gove the Secretary of State for पर्यावरण, Food, और आरural Affairs है की his desire to redistribute any direct farm support into “public goods.” विडंबना यह है कि, conveying benefits of public goods to the public is not straightforward. को public’s pang of guilt that comes from इxporting its social and environmental conscience when buying imported food जीrown to a lower environmental standard is short lived. “डब्ल्यूe can’t be environmentally conscious some of the time," कहते हैं Greta टीhunberg, the Swedish schoolgirl who has sparked environmental protests around the world. Farmers need to make को मामले के लिए when consumers buy British, they invest in the legacy thपर creates the landscapes that surround us.
And that brings us back to ओएस. There’s no better way to make our case than by throwing open our gates and inviting everybody to visit us and see what we do.
1980 के दशक में, Britain stopped mining and started importing cheaper coal. एमining communities have never fully recovered. Unless we continue to invest में को relationship that we have with the British people our rural communities could suffer the same fate. The sentiment is with us. People are more aware of the climate and environmental challenges that we all face. As farmers we have all the ingredients for success; स्थायी practice, a real commitment to biodiversity, and an openness and पारदर्शिता to build trust.
We have such a great story to tell. Let’s share it.