Government should back UK agricultural standards in global market, says Welby

THE government must work with farmers to encourage good trade deals that preserve UK export standards, the Archbishop of Canterbury said.

Archbishop Welby was delivering the annual Lord Henry Plumb lecture at the National Farmers Union (NFU) on Monday evening. The NFU represents 48,000 agricultural businesses across the country.

“In a post-Brexit era, at a time of such globalization, our farming communities can lead the way in food standards, animal welfare, trade and exports that make people’s lives better and more prosperous around the world, ”he said.

Since Britain left the European Union and its trade agreements, the farming community has had a unique opportunity to be at the heart of building and rebuilding relations abroad. “Getting the most out of the overseas market after Brexit is crucial. We need to get our trade deals right to protect UK world-class agricultural standards – bad deals risk exporting environmental and animal welfare damage and destroying farmers’ livelihoods.

“The government must partner with farmers to create global ambition and increase the identity of the UK food brand across the world to develop global markets. “

He continued: “The new Farming Act means that there is an opportunity for UK agriculture to become a world leader in sustainable, climate-friendly and high-quality food production.”

Farmers, like the clergy and worshipers, were also well placed to bridge the divide between rural and urban communities in their homes, Archbishop Welby said. There was a great deal of ignorance in the UK about the realities of farming and rural life, especially within urban communities – which, he said, need to “better understand the value that rural Britain ”, the challenges it faces and what lies behind the food on people’s plates. (At the start of the talk, he admitted to learning a lot about the hardships of farming life from the Jeremy Clarkson series on Amazon.)

The pandemic, the archbishop said, had resulted in the cancellation of village shows and cattle markets. Thus, relationships in rural communities also needed to be sustained. Here again, the Church – two-thirds of the parishes of which were rural – and its chaplains were well placed.

“The local church is there for everyone in the parish, whether they are active or not, and is intimately linked to the community. It is a challenge to and for the Church: how we ensure that churches in rural areas thrive and support local communities. We must change, reclaim the vision of being not only the Church of England, but the Church for England as well – every part, rural and urban. It cannot be achieved just by scattering the clergy.

“When we can’t be face to face, rural communities need an appropriate communication infrastructure to allow them to be connected for business and social interactions. “

The pandemic had raised economic injustices, such as the lack of affordable housing, which the Archbishops’ Housing Commission recently reported (News, February 21). He had also highlighted the disparity between urban and rural areas of education centers, schools and broadband.

Food had value, and that value mattered and should not be exploited, the archbishop said, raising the intertwined issues of food, labor and climate justice in the food and agricultural industries. (The NFU has a goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2040.)

Archbishop Welby concluded, “We can establish strong roots in values ​​and communities, and those roots allow us to be resilient and flexible in a storm. They are the ones who will help us – the country, our farming communities, and the Church – to be ambitious and innovative as things change.

“This way we can make sure we realize our potential and prosper together, as the agriculture industry cares about our well-being, our environment and our economy for many years to come. “

About Keneth T. Graves

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