Pain along way to new farming opportunities, says Spalding NFU official

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The main topic at this year’s NFU Conference was clearly going to be that of the implications of Brexit on UK farming and growing, writes Phil Ingleby, NFU South Holland branch senior group secretary.

It was interesting to hear the NFU president advise of a new and independent report, released on the day of the conference, which indicates that for every £1 invested in farm support, farming delivers £7.40 back to the economy. As a result the president once again called on Secretary of State Andrea Leadsom to clarify government commitments to farming.

Guest speakers from China, USA and Australia spoke encouragingly of opportunities in new foreign markets; however, this did carry a caveat that there would be pain along the way. Reminders were given about the significant restructure that had to take place in New Zealand after subsidies were removed, and also in Australia when their access to the UK was halted when we joined the EU back in 1973.

In one lifetime we have gone from food rations to an array of choice that would not have been believed 30 years ago, all at a price, in real terms, less than it has ever been as a proportion of household incomes.

Commentary from the wider food industry reinforced that the challenges facing farming going forward are strongly aligned with those facing the whole sector and that it is imperative that we lobby government on a unified front.