Earlier this month, around 70 farmers and industry representatives heard from NFU Deputy President Tom Bradshaw at the Herefordshire NFU annual general meeting.
He discussed the need to safeguard the domestic food supply with a General Election looming in 2024 and explained that given the damage caused by Storm Babet and Storm Ciaran, that it required policy that “ protects from flooding and prioritises river maintenance.”
Mr Bradshaw said: “Food production issues across the world, extreme climate events and geopolitical instability showed the fragility of food supply chains.
“Moving into the General Election we need a future Government to commit to food security and be practical and realistic about the policies that underpin it.
“Fairness in the supply chain is something we need to strive for but we have to be realistic about it and if there is a public commitment it’s easier to hold politicians to account.
“Herefordshire farmers and those across the country have to have enough money to reinvest in their businesses for the future.
“If that profitability is not delivered and those supply chains are not functioning properly all we will do is offshore food production to other parts of the world - out of sight out of mind is simply not acceptable.”
He said a strong plan for food production and a Government commitment on how to feed more than 70 million people living on our island was needed.
“Imports will always be part of that and they should be, but there needs to be a plan as to how we are going to provide our population with high quality, sustainable British food because having that is simply a key foundation of society,” he added.
“A Government that doesn’t take responsibility for food production will have huge problems and challenges on its hands going forward, we need a food strategy commitment in place ahead of the General Election.
“Politicians should not just take it for granted that we can bring it all in and that we will also just be there to produce that food regardless, we need to see supply chain fairness and a plan that works for our farms.”
Strong political leadership on trade, putting value on the British Union Jack brand and opening up export markets were also discussed.
On farmland flooding and the Environmnet Agency, the NFU Deputy President called for a commitment on watercourse maintenance and failing flood defences as that would be an achievable solution to protect productive farmland.
“Around 50% of our best food producing land is on the flood plain and action on flood defence would demonstrate a commitment to our family farms and our food security,” he said.
“If productive land is taken out of production and used for a public good, for example to hold flood water, then it should be properly paid for.”
Outgoing NFU Herefordshire chair and Pontrilas farmer Bill Quan thanked the NFU Deputy President and said members should be assured that officeholders and staff would continue to work hard for county farms.
“I thank all those Herefordshire who have hosted farm meetings this year and given access to their businesses for farmers, politicians and stakeholders.
“For me though the job does not stop with an MP meeting on farm and I would urge you all to continue to contact your politicians direct,” he said.
“I would ask you all to write to your local politician on the matters that are important to your farm and to Herefordshire food production.”
At the meeting sector board reports were heard and farmers were also elected to the NFU’s crops, livestock, dairy, horticulture boards and other groups where they could make a difference from the grassroots up.