West Sussex MPs have been getting behind the wheel of combine harvesters as part of the NFU’s #YourHarvest campaign.
Celebrating the contribution the arable sector makes to the nation’s economy, food supply and environment, the campaign has mobilised farmers to highlight the importance of the farming sector to MPs and other decision-makers during harvest and beyond.
Caroline Harriott, West Sussex NFU chairman, said: “While combines are very visible working in fields at this time of year, as farmers, we need to explain to decision-makers and consumers what we do with these high-tech machines and how it relates to the food that ends up on people’s plates.”
Host farmers welcomed East Worthing and Shoreham MP Tim Loughton, Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert and Horsham MP Jeremy Quin to their farms on Friday.
The farmers explained their part in producing millions of tonnes of grain and gave the MPs a guide explaining how the arable sector provides the raw materials for the UK’s £112billion food and drinks industry and performs a vital environmental role.
Farmers in West Sussex annually produce enough wheat for 168million loaves of bread, malting barley for 491million pints of beer, oats for 110,000 bowls of porridge and rapeseed for 4.1million litres of vegetable oil.
Other MPs have pledged to get out on farms as harvest progresses.
Caroline, who is farmer at Lychpole Farm in Sompting, added: “Besides showcasing harvest, farmers demonstrated their care of our iconic British countryside.
“Arable farmers have embraced integrated approaches to controlling pests and diseases, planting hedgerows and putting in thousands of acres of conservation areas on farms.”
Earlier this year, Caroline was vocal about the problem of sheep attacks on the downs.
In January, three of her 55-strong flock suffered deep puncture wounds consistent with bites to their heads and necks. One also suffered leg injuries while another’s throat had been ripped open.
And there was another attack in March – just a week after a farmer-led event highlighting the problems of sheep worrying had been held at Cissbury Ring.