At the beginning of June, I received a phone call from Alan Whibley of British Dairying. Alan explained that he had been asked to organise a reception in the House of Commons that would allow Members of Parliament to taste dairy products produced in the UK and learn more about the challenges British farmers are facing.
When Alan mentioned some of the well-known producers that had been invited and then asked if Meggy Moo’s Dairy could attend, my words to him were ‘what, little old us?’
But yes, he did want little old us, and we were delighted to have been invited to attend with our butter.
The event was hosted by Alicia Kearns, Member of Parliament for Rutland and Melton and the APPG for Dairy. The aim of the event was to be an informative and interactive reception, which encouraged MPs to taste a range of dairy products including milk, ice-cream, yoghurt and cheese and learn more about our industry. For us, as farmers and producers, it was an opportunity to share issues with the people who can influence the way forward.
It was a busy (and hot!) week to visit Westminster, with the Conservative leadership voting taking place, but it was a fantastic experience to be able to visit the House of Commons.
I would estimate around 50 MPs took the time to visit the event, including Rt Hon George Eustice, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Everyone we spoke to seemed genuinely interested in our product, our farm and our reasons for diversifying into food production. They also seemed to enjoy our butter!
It was refreshing to hear Alicia Kearns speak so passionately about her work to support the British Dairy industry. She understood the challenges farmers are facing and for me, the takeaway message for the day was about communication and education. The British Dairy industry is one of the best in the world and our welfare standards are second to none. But we as farmers, are not very good at telling our story.
Following the reception, we were all invited to the Farmers Club at Whitehall for a delicious buffet lunch and a panel discussion about what we felt were the most important issues to address.
Overall, it was certainly an experience that we won’t forget. We are very proud to have been invited and play a small part in helping to increase awareness and understanding of British Dairy.