Reading becomes first University to back British farming campaign01 December 2017
The University of Reading has become the first university in the UK to pledge to Back British Farming, after hosting its own Back British Farming Day.
The University’s Students’ Union RUSU is officially supporting the Back British Farming campaign run by the National Farmers Union (NFU), after a vote was carried earlier this year. To mark the pledge, a life-size version of the red tractor visited the University’s Whiteknights campus on Thursday 30 November, as part of a day of activities to celebrate British farming, and Professor Gavin Brooks, Pro-Vice Chancellor of Teaching and Learning signed the Back British Farming logo.
Luke Cox, a student in the University of Reading’s School of Agriculture, worked to get RUSU to pass the motion of support and organised the event.
He said: “Reading is proud to be the first university to pledge to Back British Farming. As the top university for agriculture in the UK¹, it is important for us to lead the way in supporting our local farmers.
“University of Reading has an exceptionally good policy on sourcing British meat, but students don’t really know about it.
“We’re hoping that we can engage students today to find out more about what they eat, where it comes from, and why it’s important to back UK-grown food.
“This event was also a chance to inform students and members of the public about the hard work farmers do outside of food production, such as maintaining the countryside we admire so much.”
Back British Farming
Back British Farming encourages people to support British farms through simple actions like enjoying the countryside responsibly and buying British produce, marked with a Red Tractor sticker in stores. Red Tractor is the largest food standards scheme in the UK, covering areas including animal welfare, food safety, traceability and environmental protection.
Through competitions, talks on the University’s agriculture research and projects, and photo opportunities with the famous red tractor, the celebration day aims to educate students and encourage support for the work that British farmers do for the UK countryside.
NFU Vice President Guy Smith said: “It’s great to see so many young people eager to promote British produce and encouraging their peers to get involved in the Back British Farming campaign.
“Back British Farming Day is a good opportunity to extend our message of traceable, good quality food production to the next generation and hopefully these students will leave today knowing where and how they can find it.
“Farming is the bedrock of the UK’s food and drink sector, contributing £112billion to the economy, so it is essential people of all ages and backgrounds do what they can to support the agricultural industry.
“It’s really exciting to see young people investing in the future of farming. We have some excellent agricultural universities in the UK and hopefully more places of higher education will follow the example set here today.”
Encouraging support from students
Thursday’s event will be the first of three during the 2017/18 academic year to raise awareness and encourage support for British farming. The lunchtime lecture will feature discussions on British farming, led by four speakers, and a question and answer session with the audience. Speakers include Professor Julian Park, Head of the School of Agriculture, NFU’s South East Regional Director William White, and agriculture students Luke Cox and Jonty Moore.
Professor Julian Park, Head of School for Agriculture, Policy and Development, said: “The University of Reading is proud to be the first university to pledge to Back British Farming. As the top university for agriculture in the UK*, it is important for us to lead the way in supporting our local farmers.
“We’ve found that we have an exceptionally good policy on sourcing British meat, but students don’t really know about it. We’re hoping that we can engage students today to find out more about where what they eat comes from, and why it’s important to back UK-grown food.
“This event was also a chance to inform students and members of the public about the hard work farmers do outside of food production, such as maintaining the countryside we admire so much.
Support for the Back British Farming campaign on campus was pledged by RUSU, for a minimum of 2 years, after the campaign won a democratic vote through the Student Voice body.
Rose Lennon, RUSU Welfare Officer, is supporting the campaign and leading the Union’s efforts to Back British Farming.
She said: "I have always loved farming and, after learning about the campaign, I now understand the importance of backing British and how simple it is to make small changes to support local farmers. I hope these events will spark the awareness needed for students, staff and the University to start backing British as well."