NFU: Farmers saw 'frustrating year' but 2018 will 'shape industry for generations'

NFU president Meurig Raymond
NFU president Meurig Raymond

The British farming industry has seen a "frustrating year", but 2018 will shape the industry "for many generations to come", according to the NFU.

In the farming union's New Year message, NFU's outgoing President Meurig Raymond said farmers have seen uncertain times in 2017.

But Mr Raymond said the upcoming Agricultural White Paper and Agriculture Bill will shape the industry for generations to come.

“Despite the uncertain times, I am confident that the NFU has set a clear path for farming and that working with the industry, stakeholders and Governments across the UK, we can all secure a future that delivers for the country, society and thousands of family farms,” he said.

“Farming is the bedrock of the UK’s food and drink sector, now worth £112 billion to the nation’s economy, providing jobs for 3.8 million people.

“Future policy must enable British farmers to invest and grow so the sector can continue to play its part in a successful UK post-Brexit.”

'Great successes'

With Brexit negotiations now past the initial phase, it is seen as more important than ever that the government recognises the work of British farmers in providing food, maintaining Britain's farmed landscape and contributing billions to the economy.

Mr Raymond continued: “Despite the difficulties farmers have faced throughout the last year we have had some great successes; agriculture was at the heart of the Industrial Strategy, the Government has committed to maintain the current level of agricultural funding until 2022 and it has also endorsed the NFU's vision for the future Domestic Agricultural Policy.

“This vision focuses on three cornerstones – environment, productivity and volatility – which we believe should form the basis of bold and ambitious future policy measures.

“It outlines that competitive, sustainable and profitable farm businesses are central to a dynamic food supply chain and as well as increasing the UK’s self-sufficiency. The NFU will continue to work hard through 2018 to see this vision become reality.”

Importance of farming

Through events like the NFU’s Back British Farming Day, farmers are being heard in Government and MPs are acknowledging the importance of farming within their own constituencies.

In September, 186 MPs pledged to support the NFU’s Back British Farming campaign and the Prime Minister herself declared her support for British farming at Prime Minister’s Questions.

Mr Raymond added: “We will continue to ensure that public support for British farming remains strong and that there is political recognition of the importance of the farming industry.

“In what has been a frustrating year for many, the NFU and its members have been clear in their message to Government: post-Brexit policy must allow farms to be profitable, productive and progressive. Opportunities have and will continue to arise throughout Brexit negotiations and we must be ready to take them wherever we can.”