With Brexit and the rise of veganism, British farmers need our prayers, says Christian group

(Photo: Unsplash/Annie Spratt)

With the farming community facing increasing uncertainty because of Brexit and the trend towards veganism, a Christian support network is asking for prayers.

The Rev Claire Maxim, CEO of The Arthur Rank Centre, said that while farmers are "as divided as the rest of the community about Brexit", there was some nervousness about the possibility of a no-deal Brexit and the risk of significant numbers of small and medium sized farms going out of business.

"This is not in the interest of farmers, consumers, or good land management, and merely increases social burden," she said.

Rev Maxim said that she "would not wish to see standards undercut" by Brexit in terms of animal welfare and food quality, and added that farms may struggle to hire enough workers after Brexit.

"Obviously if the movement of people is restricted, it will be difficult for people from overseas to come in to work," she said.

She said, however, that the increasing popularity of veganism was presenting additional challenges to the future sustainability of British farming.

"The recent IPCC report 'Climate Change and Land' notes that one third of all food grown is wasted," she said.

"We at the Arthur Rank Centre believe this is a huge issue of stewardship for Christians, which everyone can address in their own shopping, cooking and eating habits.

"We also notice a rise of spurious 'virtue signalling' by people deciding to become vegan as a way of saving the planet.

"Many people do not realise that some areas of UK land are only useful for meat production, and are entirely unsuitable for growing crops – think of some of the uplands of Cumbria etc – so eating a small amount of good quality local meat not only helps maintain a varied human diet, but also supports families who farm those areas.

"Good pasture land absorbs carbon, so this also helps restrict climate change emissions."

Rev Maxim is asking Christian to pray for a "sustainable way of life" for Britain's farmers.

"They and their families need to be able to eat like anyone else," she said.

"Pray for those in positions of power to listen to concerns and act upon them," she said.

"Pray to be shown ways to support farmers, and to be shown our own poor habits which increase pressure upon our food production and distribution systems.

"Pray that we may all work together in our stewardship of this precious God-given planet, and that we may each love our neighbour."

She also encouraged churches in rural areas to build good relationships with farmers in their areas and help people to understand the facts about food "so that they can counter disinformation and support sustainable food production".

"We are aware that hostility towards farmers is increasing, and we want people to understand that they work hard to produce our food and are not 'the enemy'," she said.