We do this for a number of reasons, as set out in our communications strategy. These include ensuring levy payers are aware of how we are spending money, communicating new ideas to producers, consolidating our position as a knowledge house for the industry or making market information and analysis readily available to help producers and processors make informed business decisions.
More often than not, this targeting a domestic audience of levy payers and other industry stakeholders, but this week the focus was (briefly) further afield. A group of more than 50 reporters from across the globe are currently taking part in the International Federation Agricultural Journalists (IFAG) pre-congress tour. This was ahead of their main 2014 congress – Innovations from a Small Island – which starts in Scotland tomorrow. There is also then a post-congress tour. Across the piece, visiting journalists will have had the chance to experience the best of British agriculture and learn a lot more about our industry to inform articles they write when they go home. That can only be good to further enhance the reputation of our industry abroad and complements the hard work our trade development team do in new markets for our English beef and lamb exports around the world.
So it was that at 7am on Tuesday morning, we were at Smithfield Market in London, speaking to a captive audience of international journalists about the work EBLEX does, the beef and lamb our farmers produce, the work of the processors and the shared challenges our industries have wherever you are on the planet (red meat and health, red mean and carbon emissions etc).
It was a necessarily brief audience because of a busy schedule, nestled between morning coffee and breakfast, before we embarked upon a tour of the market – but it was well worth it.
After this, the actual tour of Smithfield fascinated the visitors and gave us a chance to engage further with a smaller selection of the group, answering questions on everything from perception of meat imported from their countries, to the structure of the processing sector, meat quality systems and the popularity of cuts from different breeds.
We know that beef and lamb produced in our rain-fed pasture systems is popular across the world because of its quality and taste (notwithstanding comments this week from the US Ambassador who clearly has no idea when he is being spoiled!). Being able to put more meat on the bones for visitors in terms of its production, who can then impart that back to their own readership, can only strengthen our brand.
We wish the conference well and hope all involved from our industry will take the opportunity to shine the light on the good practice and quality product that is linked to this “small island”.