An initiative to promote and encourage equality, diversity and inclusion in the UK farming industry has launched.
Set up by farmers, Agrespect is a body which supports LGBTQ+ people living and working in rural communities.
One of the group’s founders, Lincolnshire flower grower Matt Naylor, said a key aim of Agrespect was to encourage positive conversations about inclusivity in rural areas.
“Agriculture and the rural economy are going through a period of massive change and the countryside needs to retain and attract the very brightest and best people,” said Mr Naylor.
“We need to welcome everyone. It is really important to promote the countryside as a vibrant and accepting place to live and work regardless of your gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation.”
The body has launched a pledge whereby companies and organisations can sign up to stand against prejudice in agriculture.
Supporters include Barclays, McDonalds, Sainsbury’s, Fendt, Massey Feguson, Defra and the NFU in England and Wales.
Defra Secretary Michael Gove said: “Farming today is an innovative and progressive industry that benefits greatly from being open to all, regardless of their background, gender, religion and sexuality.
“I hope that through the signing of this pledge we can further demonstrate our ongoing support for LGBTQ+ people in our rural communities.”
NFU president Minette Batters said: “British farmers have big responsibilities resting on our shoulders over the next few years and we must challenge ourselves to be an inclusive industry which welcomes new entrants of every type from any background.”