Lord Curry:Why every child in country should visit a farm
Every schoolchild in the country should have the opportunity of visiting a farm and seeing where food originates and is produced, said a senior farming leader.
Lord Curry was speaking to an audience of 190 at the annual WMN Cornwall Farm Business Awards and stressed the importance of involving young people in food production at a time when there was far greater public interest and awareness of the origins of what they bought – enhanced by the horsemeat scandal.
FACE (Farming and Countryside Education) and other organisations were doing a great job in giving children a real chance to find out more, said Lord Curry, who instigated the Year of Food and Farming in Schools in 2007.
"My challenge now is how do we reach every child in every school in Britain and give them a chance to visit a farm," he said.
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"Wouldn't that be a real success – and, if it is taken further, give every one of them the opportunity to grow something themselves, and then discover the skills of cooking it."
He had been in discussion with the National Trust, the Royal Horticultural Society and other groups about the challenge. "Any support you can give has to be good," he added, stressing: "It's very urgent to give children a real experience of the countryside."
It was vital they should see how important farming was to the nation, but also to understand the environmental impact of their decisions every time they went to a supermarket and made purchasing choices. And they should learn to choose healthy options when making their selections.
In a wide-ranging speech Lord Curry, who farms 450 acres in Northumberland and is chairman of the insurance company NFU Mutual, spoke of the enormous changes in agriculture and contrasted the present decade with the 1990s. Now was a time of threatened global food shortages, but farming had become popular in the public conception in a very different world.
Farmers needed to have new skills, to be able to add value to their products, and to be flexible enough to diversify into other income streams.
The event, held at the Royal Cornwall Showground, was in its fourth year, held to raise funds for the farming charity Addington Fund, which helps farmers with housing problems find accommodation, and Lord Curry praised its work and "incredible achievements".
The evening saw the presentation of eight awards for different categories of excellence in farming within Cornwall.
Top accolade, Cornwall's Farmer of the Year, went to Chris and Rachel Knowles, of Trink Dairy Ltd of St Ives, who also won the Best Dairy Farmer title.