From Canon Barbara Clutton
Sir, — I am writing, as a retired farmer, to endorse the concerns expressed (News, 14 August) about the current problems of British dairy farmers.
I feel that it is important for all Christians to ensure that all the food that they buy helps to support the British farming industry, parts of which are struggling to sustain viability.
For instance, British lamb is one of the most naturally reared forms of meat, and yet the price currently paid to farmers is about 25 per cent lower than last year. Despite this, the price in most supermarkets has only dropped by six per cent, and many retailers are still selling imported lamb from New Zealand.
Many agricultural chaplains and farming charities such as the Farming Community Network (a Christian charity) are reporting higher instances of stress-related problems.
Our churches are rightly very good at supporting the fairtrade movement, but I think that it is now time that we should challenge parishes to give the same support to our British farmers during this difficult time for them.
May I suggest that, in addition to prayer, we should focus our harvest services this year on the current issues facing our farmers. Perhaps ask a farmer, a local agricultural chaplain, or a representative from a farming charity to talk at a harvest service. Another idea may be to have a harvest supper made from locally sourced produce.
As an agricultural chaplain, I know that any support given to our farmers would mean a great deal to them: many are feeling stressed, isolated, and unwanted.
Agricultural Chaplain and Rural Officer, Coventry diocese
Church Cottage, Main Street
Warwickshire CV23 8DQ