Now is the time to change and reshape agricultural policy and future proof British food production, according to NFU president Meurig Raymond.
Leading the opening address at the NFU Conference held in Birmingham last week, Mr Raymond told 1,500 delegates and attendees, including Defra Secretary of State Michael Gove, that the nation needs a good Brexit. One which means British farming and food production builds on the £112 billion it already contributes to the economy and supporting jobs for almost four million people, has access to a competent and reliable workforce to harvest our fresh produce and sees Britain’s self sufficiency in food increase rather than decrease.
He said we must have a frictionless trade with the EU, adding that everything else, including the final shape of any domestic agricultural policy, is dependent on it. He added, that those who advocate a cheap food policy, of scouring the world for low cost food, should bear in mind the price paid in traceability, in standards and in the off-shoring of environmental impact.
He said: “To deliver farming’s true potential for Britain we must have a trading environment that helps, not hinders.
“We must have a food supply chain which shares risk equally - rather than piling all the risk onto the farmer.
“British farmers are extremely proud of the standards they adhere to - most of them linked to the Red Tractor, which ensures the very best in traceability.
“We mustn’t let those standards slip and be undermined by a bad trade deal during Brexit negotiations.
“A growing population has a growing appetite.
“Not only is it unwise to depend increasingly on whoever and wherever in the world to feed us but without a thriving food business there simply will not be the people - farmers - to look after and nurture the countryside.”
He called on Mr Gove and the government to work together to form a new British food and farm policy .