As is traditional, the New Year got under way with two major farming conferences, with two different agendas, in Oxford. Both are covered in this week’s Farm Business.
With the clock ticking towards March 29, the political session at the Oxford Farming Conference was predictably dominated by Brexit. Defra Secretary Michael Gove came under increased pressure from a determined NFU president Minette Batters, with backing from Labour Shadow Farm Minister David Drew, over post-Brexit import standards. They want him to introduce legislation to protect our world leading standards – Mr Gove offered more warm words but not the firm commitments sought.
Mr Gove also issued delivered a frank assessment of the severe implications of a No Deal Brexit, which he warned could undermine the potential long-term benefits of leaving the EU and our ability to embrace the ‘fourth agricultural revolution’. We also report on Mr Gove’s appearance at the rival Oxford Real Farming Conference, now a significant event in its own right.
Look out also on p4 for an excellent article by Leicestershire farmer Joe Stanley who looks beyond the headlines of the high-tech farming agenda to where investment is really needed in UK agriculture.