Ridley Browell is a farmer from the heart of Northumberland. His family's farm is 1200 acres, called Wheathill Farm, where they believe in producing wholesome food that has been reared with respect for the land. Read the following article, where Ridley talks about the recent food standards decision, and how it will affect them, plus the importance of knowing where your food comes from.
Our farming approach always stems from one key factor, welfare. We believe that looking after our animals to the best of our ability reflects highly in the final product. Farming has always been our way of life and now, into the 8th generation, we want to share our hard work with you. We bought our farm in the late 1800s, and in the years since we have grown our flock of breeding sheep, beef cows and recently introduced woodland reared pigs. What’s your opinion on the recent food standards decision? How will it affect you now, and in the future? Are there any positives coming out of this situation? We sell the majority of our lambs and cattle through live markets, where the prices can change due to lots of different circumstances or demand. It is worrying that the current food standards decision could drive these prices down to try and compete with other lower quality meat that could enter the UK. The margins within this type of farming are already tight, and when there are drastic drops in price but the costs of breeding and rearing the animals stays the same, it is harder to be profitable. With the pigs I am hoping to try a different approach, offering a direct farm-to-fork service allowing us to set the price, reducing uncertainty, and increasing our resilience. As awareness grows around food standards, I hope customers are looking to buy high quality meat produced to high standards. We want to give our customers 100% transparency and traceability, and use social media to show exactly how we work with our animals. The main positive I see is that this conversation is raising awareness about the quality of our nation as producers and the exceptional food standards we have in place - if imports do not meet these it is really not good enough. How can the public support farmers like you?
Take a closer look into UK farming production and see it from a human level. I can speak for the majority of farmers like ourselves that we just want to rear the highest quality livestock with the animal's welfare being top priority. We work with these animals every day investing our entire lives into it but the message that is often portrayed is of mass production and terrible animal welfare but that is not always the case. I would say reach out to your community and join forces to educate yourselves about where your food comes from, ask your butcher where they source their meat, support local and stand by British produce.
If you’ve found this platform you are on the right track, keep investigating into the food you eat. We have to come together as the outcome of this food bill will affect us all, not just the farmers.
Words & Photographs by Ridley Browell | Wheathill Farm