The President of the National Farmers’ Union Meurig Raymond is attending the first day of the Cheshire Show to meet with his members at a time when the industry is facing many challenging issues.
Mr Raymond will join his Cheshire based members at the NFU’s marquee from 10am with a desire to talk about the downward spiral of farm gate prices in the beef sector, how British farmers will cope with losing key crop protection materials and the significant repercussions on the way land in the county is farmed in the future due to changes to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). TB will also be on the agenda as Cheshire is on the edge of the disease spread and is strategically important in the fight to prevent it creeping further north.
With regards to beef, livestock farmers are angry that a year after the ‘horsegate’ scandal, many retailers and processors are not living up to their commitments that they would work more closely with farmers. The NFU has been vocal in highlighting the damage that this extreme price volatility will cause in an industry with a production cycle stretching over many years.
On CAP, Defra has released further details on how it will be implemented from 2015, including an announcement on new environmental Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs) and hedges.
Mr Raymond said: “We have pressed hard on this and I am pleased to see that the Secretary of State Owen Paterson MP and his ministers have also made an important and pragmatic decision to include hedges in the range of options farmers can use to meet their Ecological Focus Area requirements in 2015 and not face restrictions on inputs. We have long-argued it is critical to have hedges included – after years of counting towards agri-environment schemes it would have been a real own-goal if they didn’t feature towards the new EFAs.”
The NFU’s new campaign called ‘Healthy Harvest’ has also been launched in response to concerns that already flat lining UK crop production will be sent into decline if British farmers continue to lose access to key crop protection materials. Statistics show that since 2001 half have been lost and over the lifetime of the newly elected EU Parliament another half could be banned through what is seen as overzealous regulation not properly backed up with sound science.
Meurig Raymond believes British farmers need to be able to use the same, safe technology as their competitors if the country is to have a productive agriculture producing healthy harvests. At Cheshire Show he’ll encourage arable farmers to lobby their MPs and MEPs about this issue.
Also at the show, the NFU will host Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defra, George Eustice MP, in its membership marquee at 11.15am on Wednesday 18 June.
The NFU will once again have its atmospheric Back British Farming marquee where thousands of families flock to see chicks hatching, hold baby ducklings and milk a model cow and this year will also be taking its ‘Let’s Talk Farming’ Roadshow vehicle which has an Astroturf stage, straw bale seats, a DVD playing clips of farm animals, crops and tractors and the star of the show – Annabelle the model milking cow. Together, all these features allow children to feel as though they are actually sitting in a farm.
NFU Cheshire County Chairman Richard Fair added: “We must use opportunities such as the Cheshire Show to talk farming with youngsters to help them understand the role of farmers and growers and how they can meet the demand for food, while impacting less on the environment. It’s also a chance for them to learn the story of how food makes its way from the farm and onto our dinner plates.”
Situated in the centre of the Cheshire Show’s rural life section, the Back British Farming marquee boasts an exceptional level of interactivity.