A round of high-profile meetings between farmers and senior members of the country’s political parties are underway to promote the importance of British food and farming.
No party should take the UK’s multi-billion pounds food and drink industry for granted, the leader of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) said, after heading up talks with the Liberal Democrats.
The NFU is quizzing MPs at union fringe events at the latest round of annual party conferences. More than 115 people attended the first of those meetings in Brighton this week while Lib Dem politicians were in the city for their party’s conference.
In his opening remarks, NFU president Mr Raymond thanked Lib Dem leader Tim Farron “for standing up against the idea the country can just import cheap food with lower standards”.
Mr Raymond said that, if anything, the UK vote to leave the European Union was a vote to support Britain.
NFU members used the meeting to quiz Baroness Parminter, the party’s food and rural affairs spokesperson, and Commons Defra spokesperson, Mark Williams MP.
Afterwards, Mr Raymond said: “We’ve made it clear that food and drink, the largest manufacturing industry in the UK and worth £108bn to the nation, is one that no political party can take for granted and it was good to hear that the Lib Dems recognise the importance of the rural economy.”
The Pembrokeshire farmer added: “The decision to leave the EU will impact on every UK citizen. But for farmers, the decision will inevitably mean changes to our businesses - some of them potentially quite substantial as we look at where and how we trade.
“We now have the opportunity to take learnings from the Common Agricultural Policy to produce a tailor-made domestic farming policy, one built on a cross-party consensus to support a new, invigorated domestic agricultural policy which can match the scale of vision not seen since the post-war years.”
The farming union’s members will also have the chance to quiz MPs at NFU fringe events at the Labour and Conservative party conferences which are due to be held on September 26 and October 3, respectively.