Harriet Wilson is no stranger to farming. Raised on a cattle and sheep farm, one of her fondest childhood memories is going along with her father to compete in cattle shows and looking after calves and lambs with her younger sister – naming them and caring for them as if they were family pets.
At the tender age of 12, she started showing her own cattle at Royal shows and was introduced to the world of cattle breeding. This is where her passion for the beef industry began. ‘I now have my own small heard of British Blue’s which I am trying to build up,’ says Harriet. She is also studying Agri-food marketing with business studies at university, writes a monthly column for Farmer’s Weekly, has her own blog called College Calender, is a member of the British Blue Young Breeders and is a member and advocate of Ladies in Beef…talk about a full plate! ‘I love being so busy,’ says Harriet. ‘Don’t get me wrong, I love to let my hair down too. My friends wish I wasn’t so busy all of the time – what can I say, I love British beef so much!’
Ladies in Beef is important for Harriet as she believes that beef is a product that is seriously undervalued in the UK. ‘The general UK consumer doesn’t think about the whole process of beef production -all of the work that goes on behind it,’ says Harriet.
‘The UK beef industry is struggling and we need associations such as the Ladies in Beef to support it. At the moment, covering our costs is very high so we need to raise the profile of beef. This is best way to secure future generations of beef farmers. If not, we will be forced to import more beef and what will that do for our agriculture and economy?’
If there is one message that Harriet would love to get across to 16-25 year old UK women is that the quality of UK British beef is so important. She is thrilled that there are now more and more women in the beef industry. ‘People normally associate farmers with big burly men wearing check shirts – that is not the case,’ states Harriet. She feels that female farmers are perhaps perceived as being more trusting – after all, they are the ones who are most likely cooking up the beef at the end of the day. ‘Beef is really healthy and good for you. At the Ladies in Beef, we are coming up with more beef recipe cards to show that beef is so simple and easy to cook. So many people think beef is hard to cook or that it takes such a long time. We need to make it a more attractive product for consumers to buy.’
Harriet aspires to work for a supermarket as the buyer for meat produce or perhaps as a product developer in the meat sector when she completes her university degree.
‘I would like to do that for a few years and then go back home and start up a food enterprise business. What is really important to me is that my whole family continues to work together. We have just bought some Wagyu beef cattle and I would love to cross breed them with British Blues to create an outstanding quality beef.’ With a vision like that, how could you not want to fly the flag for British beef?