On the day that NFU President Maurig Raymond has announced his intention to step down from the post, he has called for a new domestic agricultural policy to ensure British farming continues to deliver for the economy, environment and public well-being post-Brexit, at the Green Conservatism Conference today.
In a statement issued this morning Mr Raymond that after 14 years as an officeholder at the NFU he would not be seeking re-election in February, he said: “This has been a very difficult decision for me, but it has become increasingly clear that the complex negotiations for the UK to leave the EU will go well beyond the next two years. I had always been clear that I would not want to serve as an Officeholder beyond 2020 and so, for the sake of continuity and consistency throughout this critical period for British farming, I believe it is right that I should step back now rather than in 2020.
“The NFU is well-equipped to deal with the task at hand. Our thinking on Brexit is well-developed, we have built effective alliances across and beyond our own industry and the NFU has built up a significant reservoir of cross-party political support.
“We have successfully made the case for this most important of industries and moved food and farming up the political agenda while at the same time the NFU has made, and continues to make, a real difference for its members on so many fronts. That’s only been possible because of our excellent professional staff and of course those members at every level of the organisation who give freely of their time to campaign on the wide variety of issues facing farming today.”
At the conference Mr Raymond said: “Brexit offers the farming industry the opportunity of a lifetime to develop a domestic policy that can meet, and go beyond, the expectations and needs of the public. Leaving the EU should be a catalyst for a clear vision and a much needed food plan and Government must take advantage of this.
“Farming already provides 61% of the food for the nation but we are confident a new domestic agricultural policy can give us the opportunity to enhance our ability to provide home-grown food for the nation, while continuing our care for the countryside.
“It is crucial that we seize this opportunity and create the right policy framework for Britain. There is recognition that it is important to have a productive farming sector, 89% of the public believe this is the case, so it is vital that we get this policy right.”
The NFU’s vision for a domestic agricultural policy demonstrates how increasing productivity, managing volatility and enhancing the farmed environment is vital to delivering a bold and ambitious future for the farming sector.
“Improving farm productivity post-Brexit can have benefits that extend far beyond the farm gate. It can allow farmers to create more space for nature, further invest in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and better manage nutrients.
“British farming is the bedrock of the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, food and drink, worth £109 billion and employing 3.8 million people. I am confident we can build on that if we make our domestic agricultural policy a success.”