Media helps bridge town and farm gap

BBC’s Lambing Live programme helped show the tremendous effort that goes into producing food while also bringing hard working farmers closer to the media, public and consumers. That was the message from the show’s host, Kate Humble, to Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales’ annual conference in Llanelli. She told the audience she understood if farming people were sceptical of the media. “It’s perhaps unrealistic for many farmers to spend time to engage with the media and the public because I know that you all work incredibly hard – but I’m confident that what we are doing on television is giving you all a bit more confidence in the media,. “Some of us want to be your champions – and if you let me, I’d be delighted to be one of them. “One thing presenting the show taught me was that you should never, ever, go into a supermarket, pick up a packet of meat without thinking about it, just chuck it into your trolley, pay for it – and make a bit of a fuss because it was a bit more expensive than last month. “Doing Lambing Live showed just how hard it is for farmers to do their jobs and how little they are rewarded for doing it both financially and in the media.” Kate’s farming media career began with Springwatch before the idea of making a programme about lambing surfaced. “Jim and Kate Beavan, who farm just below the Skirrid, Abergavenny, took me in as a trainee shepherd for the whole nine-month period running up to lambing so that I could learn the ropes.” Working with the Beavans led to a life changing moment. “Previously, sheep and farming were a mystery to me. I remember vividly one morning driving down the lane to the Beavan’s farm and suddenly it was like a light bulb had gone on. “I felt like I had found the right life. It was like for 40 years I had been wearing a kind of ill-fitting pair of wellies and I’d just gone and found the perfect pair they fitted – the life fitted. “The Lambing Live experience gave me a range of experiences and another level of knowledge. One thing that was fantastic about Lambing Live was it talked about the processes – the mucky side of lambing.”This wasn’t a one hour a day job. “I started at 6am to do my shepherding; there was a crew with me and we would show what happened during the day as a news report for the evening show, which went out at 9pm. “For example, we might have seen a ewe with a difficult birth in the morning and then that night, live – there she is with her lamb and doing well or not doing well, or whatever the story really was. “The great thing was that 100 per cent of the response to the Beavans was positive, perhaps because the public saw for the first time over an extended period what it is like to be a farmer. “I think we and the Beavans, and the other family farmers featured – the Marstons in Cumbria and the Dykes in the border of Scotland – have been overwhelmed by the public response. The public want to know about farming and an awful lot of people really do care.” Kate said she hoped the show had helped shift public opinion about farming. “What I think has happened is that bridges have started being built between farmer and non-farmer and that, in turn, will make people appreciate and value their food, and those that produce it, a little bit more.

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