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Greetings from the North Yorkshire countryside. It's been a wintery start to the year, with heavy snow in the past month around our Ripon base. The Dales look beautiful when it snows. The white hillsides are chopped by the drystone walls, though it's not easy for the farmers, who have to get silage out to their flocks on the tops.
With Britain having left the EU at the start of January, I wanted to use my update this month to discuss something close to my heart: the international reputation and future of British farming.
One month in, adjusting to post-EU life has been rocky for many food businesses, and especially exporters. I am hopeful that from the disruption new opportunities will emerge, but I do not wish to sound glib - this is a very stressful time for many, with livelihoods at stake.
With our future outside the bloc set, a 're-imagining' of our place in the world is underway. Debate over what 'brand Britain' is, looks likely to fill newspaper column inches for years to come.
An appreciation of farming would be a good place to start. We do not have much by way of natural resources left, but the climate is maritime, the soil is deep, and the grass is lush. In other words, this is livestock country, and I imagine a future in which Britain receives the global recognition it deserves for its expertise in animal husbandry.
The truth is that Britain has some of the highest farming and food standards in the world. My experience is that people in the meat industry abroad know this. Further still, they can taste it. It might surprise you, but here at Farmison & Co we have never known such demand from abroad for our meat - from restaurants and European home cooks alike.
At the same time, there are global trends at work which will affect us. I believe the global market for meat will shrink, as the need to stay in balance with our environment and not overreach natural limits is realised. Deforestation in the tropics for soya cultivation and beef production must end, while artificial meat is on the horizon - the full implications to human health notwithstanding.
Meat consumption from livestock will not disappear, and I believe Britain can command the top end of the global meat market, since we can produce demonstrably better meat. Already, the carbon footprint of British beef and lamb is almost half the global average (be mindful of this when considering Veganuary marketing) while our heritage breeds, fed on grass, can produce meat with richer flavour and a bigger nutritional profile.
But most importantly, to my mind, the networks of small farms from Caithness to Cornwall which have been a cornerstone of British agriculture for centuries are still intact. These small 'units' of agricultural production allow for expertise in husbandry to be passed down through the generations, parent to child, and it's what I have built my own business upon.
Exposed to international markets and prices, this network is at risk, and the danger that Britain's standards will be disrupted by international supply chains is real. Steering a course between wanting to be open to the world and protecting our farmers will be difficult for future governments - yet if we can support our food producers, my own experience tells me global demand will come calling.
In the meantime, it is our responsibility to back our farmers in these uncertain times and eat seasonally as far as possible. These isles are blessed with fertility, and we would do well to eat the abundance on our own doorsteps, in rhythm with the seasons.
As ever, if you have any thoughts or feedback, do get in touch while if you have five minutes, I would also appreciate it if you could vote for us as the best online business in the Meat Management Industry Awards.
On behalf of my amazing team, I would like to give my thanks to helping our vision of making accessible, better meat a reality.
CEO and Founder of Farmison & Co