Farming tops the agenda at Commons reception for MPs

NFU president Minette Batters addressed MPs at the NFU's Summer Reception in Westminster yesterday. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.
NFU president Minette Batters addressed MPs at the NFU's Summer Reception in Westminster yesterday. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.
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The importance of food production to the nation’s economic strength has been outlined to politicians at a House of Commons summit.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove was present alongside more than 100 MPs and farmers as the president of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), Minette Batters, gave an impassioned address about the value of British agriculture.

With the Government set to publish its Agriculture Bill before the end of July, the NFU Summer Reception in Westminster was a timely chance for Ms Batters to explain why farming must be at the top of the political agenda.

Ahead of the reception, Ms Batters said: “It is a pivotal time for British farmers; we’ve just submitted a response to the biggest consultation on the future of the farming sector in 40 years and we will soon see the Agriculture Bill.

“It has never been so important to underline the value of the British food and farming sector to Government.”

Read more: Minette Batters says British farmers must be suppliers of choice

Mr Gove was invited to say a few words at the event as Ms Batters made the case for the importance of producing more quality, British food post-Brexit.

The NFU leader said: “It is our strong belief that every person, no matter what their income, has a right to have access to quality, safe, traceable food produced to high animal welfare and environmental standards. And it’s this food that British farmers are able to deliver.

Read more: Batters backs MPs’ call for clarity on Government farm policy

“The fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy and cereals farmers produce go into the UK’s biggest manufacturing sector, food and drink, which is contributing £112bn to our economy and underpins nearly 4m jobs. British farming’s vital role in this cannot be ignored.

“British farming’s offer doesn’t stop there; it stretches across 70 per cent of the nation’s iconic countryside, caring for the natural environment and providing habitats for wildlife. Farmers really are the original friends of the earth.”

The Wiltshire-based farmer added: “With such a good story to tell on behalf of Britain’s food and farming industry, this event will be yet another opportunity for us to get these important messages across to Government.”

Ms Batters, who was elected as NFU leader in February, is due to attend next month’s Great Yorkshire Show in Harrogate. It is not yet known if Mr Gove will follow up his first visit to the show last year with a return trip himself.