Today our group started off the morning with breakfast at the hotel and a drive to Sutton. There, we visited Farmers Weekly, a magazine and online publication for agriculturists. We listened to a presentation by Karl Schneider, the editor. He shared a great deal of information with us about agriculture in the UK, as well as about the company in general. It was very interesting to hear about the popularity of poultry farming in the UK, as it is popular in the U.S., but not quite as big as an industry. Schneider’s thoughts about agriculture’s future in the UK were insightful as well. He
mentioned many changes that the U.S. will also see, including a growing technology, changing consumer opinions, eating preferences, and increasing environmental concerns. We also learned the different ways Brexit can affect UK farmers. Schneider predicted anything from pressure on profitability to reduced market prices. Overall, the group asked questions about the UK and learned key differences from the U.S. In terms of learning about the publication, there were not many differences between U.S. and UK agricultural journalism companies. Farmers Weekly is the number one magazine in the UK for farmers, and the number one community website for online trading platforms. Their branding is strong and well known. So much so that it was especially surprising to hear that their readers prefer hard copies of the magazine over digital. Although the publication also has a strong drive to constantly improve their online platforms. They focus on actionable content that farmers can use and apply. In terms of their hands-on approach, they also host workshops and events, such as a soils day. It is great that the magazine focuses so diligently to help their farmer-readers succeed and grow their farms. This first stop allowed us all to have a better understanding of UK agriculture, and agricultural publications around the area.
Our next stop was at the U.S. Embassy, where we listened to a presentation by Steve Knight from the USDA. He shared information about his job, which includes reporting information about the UK to the U.S., as well as dealing with trade policy. It was interesting to hear about the role he and his coworkers play in trade, as well as commonly traded products between the U.S. and the UK. For example, Knight shared that a growing import into the U.K. from the U.S. is wood pellets. These pellets are burned instead of coal for energy. Knight went on to explain Brexit as a whole to our group, as well as personal predictions he saw for the future. Not only did he share insight about the USDA and it’s connection to the UK, but also about policy in general. It was interesting to hear his opinions and to learn more about how our two countries interact. The visit helped our group understand more about Knight’s role at the USDA and agricultural trade in general.
The group had the rest of the evening free. Most of us headed back to the hotel to regroup and some of us went to Westminister Abbey. A few of us used this time to take some photos in the park and ate dinner at pub called the Old Swan. We also saw some other members of our group that ate there. The food was amazing!
The day wrapped up with a group reflection in the late evening and was led by Dr. Miller. It was great to get to know the other students from University of Tennessee and University of Arkansas better. We also enjoyed reflecting on all we had learned that day as well as what we hoped to learn more about!
Overall, today taught all of us a great deal about agriculture in the UK. Not only did we get to learn more about the agricultural journalism realm, but also agricultural policy. I can say without a doubt that everyone is more than excited to continue to see more differences and to see UK agriculture as a whole!