NFU President Peter Kendall has called on Government to give
explicit recognition to the key role that farming will have to
play over the years ahead in securing Britain's food supply and
fighting climate change.
Speaking at a reception held at the Oxford Farming Conference
to mark the start of the NFU's centenary year, Mr Kendall said
that the situation in which farmers and growers were operating
had changed dramatically.
"Rising world demand, climate change and energy security
have combined to make agriculture a strategically important industry
once again; a sector that offers society solutions, not problems,
and to hear our politicians acknowledge that would be a great start
to our centenary year," he said.
But Mr Kendall told delegates that not everyone appeared to have
understood the nature or importance of the change, which led him
to suggest two New Year's resolutions:
"The first is that the livestock chain wakes up and responds
in the same way that - at last- the dairy chain has. It is high
time that the whole of the livestock chain recognised the fragility
of local supply and started entering into long term contracts and,
above all, started paying remunerative prices. Let 2008 be the
year that the economic upturn now enjoyed by some spreads to all.
"The second is that Defra, and the government too, acknowledge
that things have changed. This is emphatically not a plea for government
assistance or subsidy; just a government statement that farming
matters - to coin a phrase - would be a good start.
"Beyond that, we need to see some understanding that if we
are going to be expected to produce more and improve our environmental
performance at the same time - and we should be expected to do
that - it will require technology and investment, and a more coherent
"Ending the Agricultural Building Allowance - to take just
one topical example - simply makes no sense in this context."
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