FARMING is being attacked from all angles. Politically, socially and professionally it is being savaged by battalions of self-proclaimed desktop warriors of narrow-gauge righteousness that are lining up to take a pop at the farming industry. And no one, seemingly, is fighting back.

So, it was nice to see that venerable organisation, the Royal Smithfield Club, enter stage left as the Smithfield Forum acting as a rallying ground for the meat industry to promote the industry against all detractors. This new beginning will see it take a more pro-active role in promoting best practice in beef production to counter criticism. That’s all very well, but its new strategic director, John Dracup, has a tough and dirty job on his hands, as any search through social media will tell him.

This is a recurring theme throughout the industry. Arable farmers, for instance, are losing much of their armoury based on politically-motivated clap-trap, the likes of which is sinking our most used herbicide, glyphosate, into oblivion. Dairy farmers are being accused of ‘murder and rape’. So, this is a BIG job.

There must be some sympathy with those who husband niche areas of agriculture. Many of them are unable, or unwilling to meet the single issue opponents head on, so there is a need for a body with a much wider remit than just beef.

It will require an all-industry and well-funded support body that will take on the cyber talkers of tosh, meet the ‘greeters’ head on and stand tall for the industry. The need for clear guidelines across a range of topics, such as the carbon footprint of home-produced food, as against imported almond ‘milk’ or palm oil from South America, should be easy enough.

That's because it’s not enough, these days, to just say: “It’s easy to criticise farming with your mouth full.” What’s needed is a centralised force which can be mobilised and get down and dirty with those who do likewise to us behind the anonymity of the internet, on all levels and for all sorts of issues.

We have to match their single-mindedness and cyber-wisdom, so it is time for the entire industry to put hands in pockets to up our game on a whole range of levels, not the least of which has the misnomer ‘social media’. Day in day out you can see the way farmers are vilified when they try to fight back at some of the more outlandish claims being made by the likes of vegans and animal welfare activists.

As well as supporting the industry by debunking many of the ‘theories’ that abound on social media, this body should also be taking on the role of complaining to the Advertising Standards Authority about some of the radical messages that have been paid for on city buses and bus shelters. Many of these will never be seen by those in the farming industry, but these graphic images which have either been mis-represented factually or by geography are in the face of our customers. Time for a new strategy?