As grocery's greatest sipped warm Chardonnay with the farmers and watched rain soak the Royal Show on Monday, a new kid on the block tramped the marquees on a networking circuit of his own. Enter, stage left, the latest player in the cast of thousands currently acting out the industry's epic "Buy Local, Shop Local" saga. Set to be much more than a bit player is 50 year old Ewen Cameron, chairman of The Countryside Agency, the government body with responsibility for rural affairs. For it is he, we're assured by one of grocery's most prolific spin doctors, who has been charged by Tony Blair with "bringing together" the disparate initiatives designed to stimulate the market for local food and drink. No mean task, given the various activities being pursued by the NFU, FFB, the IGD and even the Prince of Wales. But given one of Tony Blair's focus groups might easily have inflicted Dale Winton upon us as a food chain Tsar, we should be grateful Cameron is a farmer with more than a fair idea of the route from plough to plate. Thus he got off to an astute start on Monday by stumping up a cool one million quid for the regional producer groups, a move certain to bring smiles to the shires. And that might also come in handy for the PM as he bids to get back in the good books of rural Britain after his handbagging at the hands of the WI. The CA chairman's message is simple and sensible. The future of the English countryside is in the hands of the public as much as the government. But they need to understand the connection between the products they buy and the countryside they value. We have many innovative small food producers who deserve our support. Having said that, it's important they understand the realities of 21st century commercial Britain. You can organise as many jingoistic campaigns as you like, but those local folk will still need to be shrewd competitors if they're to survive in the economic battleground which is today's world of grocery. Mind you, a helping government hand doesn't go amiss. Clive Beddall, Editor {{OPINION }}