NFU warns the clock is ticking for government to back British farming
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Delivering the opening address at NFU Conference, NFU President Minette Batters will lay out the three cornerstones needed to ensure a prosperous food and farming sector; one that delivers a secure, safe and affordable supply of British food, for both home markets and overseas, and recognises that farmers are the nation’s working conservationists in protecting and enhancing the environment.
“There are three key lessons we can take from this extraordinary year,” she will say. “As the global population continues to rise, and parts of the planet become less suited to producing the food we eat, we have an opportunity, and a duty, to get the best out of our maritime climate. Secondly, in the face of climate change, we should be unwavering in our commitment to achieving net zero and contributing to our energy security through on-farm renewables generation. And thirdly, we should never take our food security for granted.
“But the fact remains, volatility, uncertainty and instability are the greatest risks to farm businesses in England and Wales today. Critically, those consequences will be felt far beyond farming, they will be felt across the natural environment, and in struggling households across the country.
“Labour shortages and soaring energy prices are hitting the poultry industry, already reeling from avian influenza, as well as horticultural businesses and pig farms. Meanwhile, other sectors are facing an uncertain future as direct payments are phased out against a backdrop of huge cost inflation, with agricultural inputs having risen almost 50% since 2019,” added Ms Batters.
"And the impact of this? UK egg production has fallen to its lowest level in nine years. In 2022, UK egg packers packed almost a billion fewer eggs than they did in 2019.”
She warned the clock is ticking for those farmers and growers facing costs of production higher than the returns they get for their produce.