FARMING MATTERS: Farmers flock to hear NFU speaker

Minette Batters at the AGM of the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire NFU

The woman many expect to be the next president of the National Farmers Union spoke to farmers at the AGM of the Berkshire Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire branch of the NFU at The Oxfordshire Golf Club near Thame.

Minette Batters, currently NFU deputy president, has put her name forward for the presidency after the current incumbent Meurig Raymond announced his intention not to seek re-election at the AGM in February next year.

And so it was no surprise to find more than 100 farmers at the Thame meeting, keen to see the person who may take farming through the period of Brexit negotiations.

Ms Batters, a tenant farmer in Wiltshire, runs a beef enterprise and co-founded the campaigning initiative Ladies in Beef. She runs a diversified mixed farming business and as well as the beef and some arable land she does horse liveries and operates a wedding and corporate events venue, and a catering business.

So she is clearly a woman with a passion for farming, but also a successful businesswoman - essential ingredients for the role of NFU president. She has been a member of the NFU from grass roots through to many official roles. She began her address in Thame by paying tribute to the hard work of Mr Raymond and NFU vice president Guy Smith before talking about a wide variety of topics currently taxing the minds of farmers.

These included the Basic Payment Scheme operated by the Rural Payments Agency; rural crime with particular emphasis on the problem of hare coursing; and bovine TB.

On the issue of Brexit, she said the NFU was working alongside other agencies including the Country Landowners Association, the Tenant Farmers Association and the Young Farmers to talk to the government about the best possible outcome for the future of agriculture.

Questions from the floor included the need to identify Buy British options on supermarket online shopping; HS2; and the need to attract the right quality of young applicants to the industry.

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