I am fortunate, in my position as one of the South Holland branch group secretaries, to be able to attend and contribute to meetings and discussions on a wide range of topics, writes Andrew Cross,
Clearly, ongoing discussions as to what is required to ensure the continued viability of the farming and growing industry post Brexit are high on the agenda. However, issues of huge importance to our local branch members are also, rightfully, given a high priority.
Last week, I attended two meetings which highlighted this wide scope of NFU representation.
On Wednesday, I attended an NFU led Labour Meeting which focused on understanding the issues confronting the local farming, growing and wider food chain related industries. Listening to the delegates it became apparent that the industry faces a very real shortfall in the volume of skilled personnel able and willing to work within the industry. A very clear message was taken away which will result in the NFU lobbying to ensure that Government is aware of the need to ensure continued accessibility to a skilled labour force post Brexit.
Closer to home, on Friday morning, I was present at an NFU Rural Crime meeting, which focused on an issue which has dominated local rural reporting recently, that of illegal hare coursing. Incoming Chief Constable of Lincolnshire Police Bill Skelly attended along with Matt Warman MP (Boston & Skegness), Caroline Johnson MP (Sleaford & North Hykeham), Marc Jones (Police & Crime Commissioner for Lincolnshire) and his deputy Stuart Tweedale. Several delegates challenged the panel around recently reported crime figures, outlining their experiences, which contradicted this information and indicated a marked increase in activity, including criminal damage and intimidation. The level of passion and concern in the room was evident from the outset.
Bill Skelly concluded by giving a commitment to the large gathering that the focus would henceforth be levelled on communication, intelligence, enforcement, prevention and working together with those affected. A commitment was also given to work with the Crown Prosecution Service to ensure that enforcement of the law was accompanied by appropriate sentencing.