The newly elected president of the National Farmers’ Union has today called on the government to put British farming “on the global map”, as she set out what she wants to see from a new agricultural policy.
In her first speech since being declared the union’s first female leader in its 110-year history, Minette Batters laid out four themes for the new officeholder vision for a new farming policy post-Brexit.
That vision involves working with Government and other stakeholders to ensure British farming becomes the envy of the world; sees British farmers enhance the natural environment and improve soil health to protect the nation’s iconic countryside; feed more families in every part of Britain with safe, high quality and affordable food, driving productivity and innovation across the sector; and championing 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.
The Wiltshire beef farmer gave her speech to an audience of political and industry stakeholders in Westminster alongside deputy president Guy Smith and vice president Stuart Roberts.
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.
“Today, I am calling on the whole of government to help us put Britain on the global map when it comes to farming,” she said.
“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 percent of our lamb, 80 percent of our dairy exports and 75 percent 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.”
Ms Batters added: “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.”