YFC AGM 2011: Young Farmers look for opportunity at London 2012

A LIVELY debate around harnessing the 2012 Olympics to promote British farming saw social media and wider public interaction emerge as key themes to explore.

Chaired by Sainsbury’s head of agriculture Annie Graham, ‘Promoting British Agriculture: Olympics 2012’ was one of three ARAC Forum breakout sessions.

And Ms Graham stressed the huge opportunities next year’s London Olympics presented to British agriculture.

She said: “Approximately 204 countries are bringing teams of athletes and there will be 8 million people attending the events, many from overseas. Part of the message to these people is very much about local food and promoting British farming standards.”

Harriet Wilson, a member of Eccleshall YFC, Staffordshire, wondered whether barcode apps for iphones and smart phones which showed the origin of the food and where in the country it was sourced from was one way to harness technology for farming.

“Social networking is a big tool at the moment and retailers are targeting consumers via this. Maybe this is something we can harness to promote British farmers,” she added.

On the issue of public interaction Steve Vincent, Langport YFC member, Somerset, believed next year’s Open Farm Sunday could be a huge opportunity for farmers as it falls very shortly before the Olympics, especially if it could be linked in with the games.

He said: “How many people know where their food comes from? Children are the consumers of the future and we need to engage with them now and make sure they appreciate where their food is coming from.”

Chris Bateman, chairman of Gloucestershire YFC and member of Sodbury YFC, urged farming to retain its image while embracing the new technologies the industry has to offer.

“Farming has to retain its image and allow people to take pride in where the food comes from,” he said. “We also have a huge chance to show athletes consuming British food. They are, after all, at the top of their professions and their image could mean a lot.”

 

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