Local farmers call for public support to keep producers in business as we near the end of the EU transition period

Report by Ben McGrail

The National Farmers' Union has warned it is more important than ever to support local producers to help them survive through the entirety of the coronavirus pandemic.

Local farmers are praising the support from the NFU as they change their business dynamics to keep up with the changing consumer landscape.

Holly Purdey farms on National Trust land at Horner on Exmoor, and specialises in producing grass-fed lamb - something she hopes to eventually be able to sell directly to every single customer.

We take a lamb to the market and we are told what it's worth but if we can direct sell it means we can future-plan for our business and make a sustainable business. In the end the consumer is paying no more than what they pay in the supermarket but the money actually comes back directly into the local economy and supports small farming businesses.

Holly Purdey, Farmer
The NFU are trying to help out local farmers by upping the appetite for local produce Credit: ITV West Country

The National Farmers Union says that support is really needed now as the challenges of Covid-19 merge with the end of the transition period of Britain's departure from the EU.

We hope that people continue to support us but, by nature, this region is an exporter of food and drink. It's not going to make up for all of that difference but anything that can will help to underpin the challenges, not least as we head into the end of the year and the start of next with the Brexit scenario. We need to build in that resilience even more.

NFU spokesperson

It's not just the farming industry that benefits from local people buying local produce.

Businesses that rely on tourism have told ITV West Country that farming carves out the iconic South West landscapes that drive tourists here every year in their thousands.

Though the link might not be immediately clear, tourism businesses say they rely on a stable farming industry to survive. Credit: ITV West Country

The landscape of Exmoor has been shaped over 8,000 years of human interaction and farming plays a massive role in managing the landscape which, fundamentally, attracts so many people to come to Exmoor. So there's a real link there.

Dan James, Exmoor National Park Authority

In a sign of progress, from today the Government is starting to set out guidance for businesses and people about what will change when the EU Transition Period ends in December.

The adverts will direct people to specific websites around trade, travel and standards.

Government advertisements will be appearing across the country. Credit: UK Government

In response to concerns about a drop in standards of food quality, including importing 'chlorinated chicken' from America, the Government has consistently said it intends to keep and promote the high standards of UK produced food.

Farmers could also see renewed support as a new law about agriculture post-Brexit is currently going through the Houses of Parliament.

The landscaping nature of farming has been said to contribute to the draw of tourists to the West County. Credit: ITV West Country

The NFU has said the number of people who have been using farm shops since the crisis began has increased, with many local producers able to deliver to rural homes big supermarkets cannot deliver to.

However, the organisation has also admitted it will be a case of waiting to see if the newfound shopping habits will continue in a post-coronavirus world.

Farmers are hopeful that their communities will still come out and support local producers, adding "you have to be optimistic because if you're not then you wouldn't be farming!".