UFU urges BBC to value local farming

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) is claiming that the BBC has yet again devalued the farming community by cancelling a critical meeting with UFU representatives.
UFU president David BrownUFU president David Brown
UFU president David Brown

The Union say the timing of this discussion was vital to urge the BBC to reconsider their plans to cut Farm Gate from Radio Ulster in the New Year. It is the only Northern Ireland (NI) programme that delivers information on a wide range of agricultural matters.

UFU president David Brown said: “We have received correspondence from the BBC that they want to cancel our meeting on 20 December and hope to reschedule in January. By the New Year, Farm Gate will already be axed, and our public broadcaster who has a duty to inform and educate everyone in society on matters of interest, will have knowingly cut off a key channel of communication isolating farming families. It gives the impression that this approach is being taken to minimise interference as those with decision making powers progress with removing this important output that caters to our rural communities.

“We understand BBC representatives are busy, however, this meeting was agreed upon in advance. Their inability to prioritise agriculture is utterly disheartening and baffling. Agriculture is critical to tackling two of the biggest challenges that we face at a national and global level, producing enough food to feed a growing population while also tackling climate change, so why won’t the BBC give us their time as agreed, to help safeguard their farming output?

“BBC’s coverage of local farming has decreased drastically in recent years. At the meeting we were also hoping to discuss how the public broadcaster would improve this and cover agriculture going forward.

“The BBC need to decide very carefully what message they want to send to rural dwellers and farmers. The people who produce the food they depend on every day, maintain our iconic landscape helping to boost local tourism, provide employment, support rural communities and contribute £6 billion annually to the NI economy. Where there is a will there’s a way, and the BBC have the power to step up for farming families across NI. We remain hopeful that BBC representatives will make arrangements to ensure that we can start the New Year as we mean to go on.”