Fish Farmer - - Contents – Editor’s Welcome - By Nick Joy

THERE may be those among you who think I am go­ing to talk about aliens and life in the outer reaches of our galaxy. If you are I am afraid that you are go­ing to be sorely dis­ap­pointed - I am still, as usual, ad­dicted to aqua­cul­ture. On a re­cent Satur­day night, I was priv­i­leged to meet some of the grad­u­ates from the Ru­ral Lead­er­ship pro­gramme. This scheme en­cour­ages farm­ers, peo­ple work­ing in farming or in the sup­ply chain to come to­gether and learn about lead­er­ship and how to in­no­vate to­gether.

I shall not name names for fear of miss­ing some­one out but the peo­ple were highly im­pres­sive, young and very thought­ful.

They in­cluded a dairy farmer with 600 cows, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive from Sains­bury’s, the op­er­a­tions man­ager of sev­eral farms owned by Mr Dyson, and the guy in charge of Young Farm­ers (Eng­land and Wales).

None of them had en­coun­tered any­one from aqua­cul­ture and they were ex­tremely cu­ri­ous about how we op­er­ated.

They had grad­u­ated to­gether and kept in close con­tact, us­ing each other’s ex­pe­ri­ence, but also the trust built up, in order to dis­cuss their ideas, plans and busi­ness is­sues.

They travel ev­ery year to a dif­fer­ent venue to try to learn about that sphere of farming or food pro­duc­tion to see how this might give in­sights into their own busi­nesses.The con­cept is brilliant but also their com­mit­ment to each other and to the orig­i­nal con­cept is truly won­der­ful.

Due to the fact that I was not the des­ig­nated driver and that I have a ter­ri­ble weak­ness when of­fered a glass of wine (or three), I can­not re­mem­ber all of the con­ver­sa­tions. None­the­less, there is one that stands out de­spite my worst at­tempts to rub it out.

The young man rep­re­sent­ing Young Farm­ers, with 25,000 mem­bers, was talk­ing about the never end­ing stream of crit­i­cism of farming - how PR and the press ab­sorbed large amounts of his work time, par­tic­u­larly dis­cussing the ve­gan move­ment and its view of the world.

Please note I do not de­scribe it as a tide of ve­g­an­ism, be­cause it has risen to the heady heights that the or­ganic move­ment did when ev­ery­body said that was go­ing to take over the world.

form of food pro­duc­tion, at­tacked by the mis­in­formed or the ped­dlers of dis­in­for­ma­tion, reg­u­lated by those who don’t un­der­stand and a press only in­ter­ested in neg­a­tive sto­ries.

By the time the evening ended we had agreed that one of the big­gest is­sues fac­ing ru­ral busi­ness is that each dif­fer­ent in­dus­try spends its time lob­by­ing against the other.

Co­he­sion is sorely needed when deal­ing with a gov­ern­ment that sees ru­ral af­fairs as an ex­pen­sive nui­sance.

to­gether and re­alise that we have greater sim­i­lar­i­ties than we have dif­fer­ences.

Each in­dus­try’s po­lit­i­cal clout is so minis­cule com­pared to most in­dus­tries that we can be played off against each other.We don’t un­der­stand each other’s busi­nesses and so we see threat where there is op­por­tu­nity.

In the early days of aqua­cul­ture, over­tures were made to the Na­tional Farm­ers Union in order for our in­dus­try to join but the NFU de­murred.

“We need to be­come part of a vi­brant and suc­cess­ful group of ru­ral in­dus­tries ”

It was not sur­pris­ing, our in­dus­try was tiny and the rev­enue would have been far out­weighed by the prob­lems.

Nowa­days, that can hardly be the case.We are a huge rev­enue stream, big­ger than beef and sheep com­bined. If we want greater clout with gov­ern­ment, be it West­min­ster or Holy­rood, then we need to be­long to a larger group than we do now.

This does not mean that we need to sub­orn our needs to the needs of oth­ers but that we need to have more weight on our side of the ar­gu­ment.

As a small space­craft called Voy­ager II goes fur­ther and fur­ther out­side our so­lar sys­tem are not alone, our in­dus­try must dis­cover this in our small dot in the uni­verse. We need to be­come part of a vi­brant and suc­cess­ful group of ru­ral in­dus­tries with the com­bined weight to achieve the reg­u­la­tion and recog­ni­tion we merit.

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