Now is the time for British food and farming to be championed by the British people according to the NFU’s newly-elected President Minette Batters.
In her first official speech delivered on 26 February, Batters set out her bold and ambitious vision for British food and farming to an audience of political and industry stakeholders in Westminster.
Alongside Deputy President Guy Smith and Vice President Stuart Roberts, Batters will call on Government to help put British farming on the global map in what she will call ‘a new dawn for the countryside.’
She said: “Today, I am calling on the whole of Government to help us put Britain on the global map when it comes to farming. I want to be involved in Brexit trade negotiations, and for farming to be the first to take its place in this new buyers’ market.
“However, we must not turn our back on the EU market, it remains crucial for British farmers, with 40% of our lamb, 80% of our dairy exports and 75% of our wheat and barley exports currently going into Europe. It is vital we have zero-tariff, frictionless trade with the EU market place.
“Just as they have promoted British industry and defence interests abroad, our Ministers now need to stand shoulder to shoulder with farmers and push British agricultural goods.”
Batters also pushed home the need for Government to recognise good quality, traceable and affordable food as a public good.
“We know the British people expect high animal welfare standards, responsible environmental stewardship and good quality, traceable and affordable food. Our own UK market has demanded ever greater food safety regulation and as farmers and growers we’ve risen to that challenge – that’s why we believe that the food we produce is a public good.
“Good quality, safe and traceable food is a public right and above all else a necessity for each and every one of us. I want British farming to be the food producer of choice for every British citizen, no matter who they are, where they live and regardless of their income.
“More than that British people should want to shout loudly and with pride about the food, we as an Island nation, produce.”
Batters finished by laying out the four themes for the new officeholder vision for a new agricultural policy.
· A vision for working with Government and other stakeholders to ensure British farming becomes the envy of the world;
· A vision that will see British farmers enhance the natural environment, and improve our soil health – protecting our iconic countryside;
· A vision that will feed even more families in every part of Britain with safe, high quality and affordable food, driving productivity and innovation across the sector; and
· A vision that will see us champion British farming at home, in Europe and throughout the globe.
An agricultural policy with these themes at its heart, she said, will be good for Britain’s balance sheet, the public and the rural economy.