By Aimee Mahony, chief poultry adviser, NFU
As Parliamentary business returned following the Christmas break, I joined members of the NFU Poultry Board in London to host a drop-in session for MPs and Peers in the Palace of Westminster. We took the time in the lead up to the event to fully prepare and plan, with key asks and briefing papers at the ready. Although the RSVP rate was very positive you never quite know how many people will turn up on the day but when the door to the room we were all gathered in kept opening with another MP or Peer ready to come in, I was pleasantly relieved.
It will be no surprise that the main focus of conversation was on avian influenza, rising costs of production and supply chain issues, particularly in the egg sector but we also took the opportunity to reinforce all the positive messaging around eggs and poultry meat being affordable, nutritious and versatile sources of protein – something which definitely struck a chord with MPs as they look for ways to help constituents with the cost of living crisis.
Both farming minister Mark Spencer and shadow farming minister Daniel Zeichner attended the session, both asking questions with NFU members poised ready to provide the answers. Just like other MPs in attendance, both ministers were keen to hear directly from farmers about the challenges poultry producers are currently facing and committing to further discussion with the NFU as and when required.
Although I’ve been involved in similar events before, I was encouraged by the heightened level of interest from MPs and peers who I felt genuinely wanted to know how they could best help poultry producers on the issues that mattered most to their businesses. This highlights the importance of engaging with MPs and Peers and providing briefing papers for them to take away from such meetings as this has resulted in numerous written and oral questions being asked to the relevant Ministers.
It is important that we all keep up this dialogue and offer solutions where possible to the issues being faced. MPs are key stakeholders and it is vital that they understand both the challenges and opportunities presented to the sector and how they can help play their part in shaping a profitable future for poultry producers.