Defra plans rural publication to keep farmers in the know

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is planning to launch a publication covering rural issues for the farming community.

Defra has invited publishing agencies to apply to handle the work. It says the magazine or newspaper, which will be sent out to 166,000 farmers across England, will inform the industry of the latest Parliament- ary developments and will include news, features and interviews with people in the industry.

Defra will supply extensive research to the chosen agency to assess the most appropriate format to communicate with farmers. The contract will cover research, copywriting, design and production, under the guidance of a managing editor and editorial board.

The winning agency will work alongside a Defra marketing and online communications team to develop the product. The contract is worth about £250,000.

The Labour government has had a difficult relationship with farmers and other rural groups since it came to power in 1997, with issues such as its tackling of the foot and mouth outbreak and a ban on hunting with dogs causing controversy.

Secretary of state David Miliband MP leads the department, which oversees agriculture, the countryside, food and the environment.

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