These are unusual times in which to take up a new post, but I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself, thank you for your support of the British Game Alliance, and outline how the BGA is working to support the game meat market and our member shoots through this crisis.
I am honoured to take on the leadership of the BGA. I have worked in game and wildlife research, gamekeepers’ education, college shoot management, countryside lobbying and campaigning, and latterly at Defra. You can read my bio here, but the important thing is this: I believe passionately in the mission of the British Game Alliance because I believe in the value of game meat and the power of game shooting as a tool for good in the countryside. As such I am so grateful for your ongoing support, and believe that together with you and our partner organisations we can create a fully-assured, sustainable market for game.
Of course these are hard times for many of our members and supporters. The thesaurus has been exhausted as commentators struggle to describe the Covid emergency. The times are unprecedented, extraordinary, strange, and challenging. However we characterise this period, my first priority as CEO is to ensure we are doing all we can to support our members through it in any way we can.
Due to our role in promoting and assuring the production and consumption of game meat, we are in a unique position to share information about our sector with Defra’s food and farming teams. We have been invited to join the Food Chain Emergency Liaison Group and the Brexit Breeding Group, both key stakeholder forums in which Defra shares updates and requests intelligence from industry. The BGA has been asked through our membership of these groups to gather information from our member game farms, shoots, processors and stockists, and in particular at this time to seek industry views on access to labour, Personal Protective Equipment (such as face masks) and finance through the various Government schemes. Do please send us your views and experiences, and we will collate and send on to Defra to inform the policy making process. We will continue to attend these meetings and keep you informed of any relevant updates.
You will be aware that we have already been gathering information on how Covid is affecting our sector, and you may well have participated in that research. If so, thank you very much, and I hope you have read about the results here. This information helps our partner organisations and the wider game sector shape a response to the crisis, and has supported our social media campaign encouraging guns to commit to their shooting next season. You may have seen our posts, urging guns to consider the many people who rely on game shooting for even part of their income and not to cancel their planned shoot days. We have over 11,000 followers on Instagram alone, and our message was widely shared.
No one can predict the future ramifications of this crisis, but most are agreed that we won’t be returning to normal as we once understood it. We will see in time what this means for game meat and the role of the British Game Alliance, but I think we can be sure that standards and assurance in our food chain will be more important than ever. But to end on an optimistic note, I also suspect as we emerge from lockdown more people than ever will want to know their food is traceable, local and sustainable. The BGA will be working hard to ensure the public knows this is a role game can ably play on the nation’s plate.