Rural champion notches up new award

RURAL campaigner Lady Cranbrook has notched up another accolade for her work in bringing the plight of independent food retailers and producers to the fore.

RURAL campaigner Lady Cranbrook has notched up another accolade for her work in bringing the plight of independent food retailers and producers to the fore.

The Suffolk farmer, who was at the Country Land & Business Association Game Fair in Hampshire on Friday to launch its supermarket petition urging better treatment of their suppliers, was presented an award recognising her Outstanding Contribution of the British Food Industry.

Lady Cranbrook, who was awarded an OBE in the recent Queen's Birthday Honours, had been an active member of the CLA for many years.

She was chosen as the first recipient of the award following years of campaigning to move the issue of local food up the political agenda.

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She was appointed the CLA's regional food advocate for the east of England at last year's game fair.

The award is the latest in a string of recent accolades for the veteran campaigner, who was voted 'second wisest person in the country' by the readers of Saga magazine in June. She was also ranked among the top 20 most influential people in the countryside in a Country Life magazine poll.

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CLA vice president William Worsley said: “Lady Caroline Cranbrook has achieved so much in her work with the CLA and she is a tireless campaigner of regional food, farmers' markets, food labelling and small abattoirs, and has taken her campaign to the heart of Government. The CLA is delighted to present her with this award.”

Lady Cranbrook said she was “absolutely thrilled to bits” to receive the award, which she hoped would flag up the importance of fresh local produce.

“It helps raise people's awareness of the issues I'm campaigning for,” she said.

“My research into the rural economy has shown how everyone is dependent on each other and that local shops and restaurants need the fresh local meat supplied by farmers. Fresh local produce in vital not only on a local and regional level, but to the nation as a whole.”

After receiving the award, she launched the CLA's supermarket petition at the Food Chain Initiative stand.

“In essence, we are looking for better treatment of supermarket suppliers and we are very concerned about our large suppliers and the contracts or lack of contracts they have with the supermarkets,” she said.

“From my own perspective, we also want to be looking at the retailing side, because the small retailers are very important for our small producers.”

They wanted the Competition Commission to look at the definition of monopolies in relation to supermarket giants taking over in other areas, such as convenience stores and garages, she said.

“The supermarkets are closing off one by one all the different outlets. Unless something is done, we'll end up with no independent retailers,” she said.

The petition can be found on the CLA website at

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