NFU President Meurig Raymond delivered a speech to members of the European Parliamentary Labour Party in Strasbourg yesterday on the impact of farming on the wider economy and how it contributes to the £100billion a year agri-food industry.
In a private meeting with the 20 Labour MEPs, Mr Raymond championed the farming sector and encouraged influential politicians to act on the issues which challenge farmers in the long and short-term.
In his speech, Mr Raymond said: “The UK’s farmers do so much beyond producing food for your constituents to eat. Farming is at the forefront of a dynamic, growth-orientated sector which is important and relevant to families across the UK.
“Farmers form part of an industry which is a driver for jobs and growth in the UK and across the EU; it’s not just the milk that farmers produce, it’s the skilled jobs in food science, marketing and product development moving the dairy industry forward - Arla and Dairy Crest employ 3,000 and 4,500 people respectively.
“On the flip-side, this influence is not without its risks. The potential loss of a critical mass of dairy farmers doesn’t just impact agriculture, it affects the whole chain. The same knock-on effect can be seen in volatility, which is an increasing part of our everyday lives as farmers. Volatility in our sector creates much bigger problems across the agri-food sector.
“When we talk about the UK self-sufficiency in food, which is currently 60% and dropping 2% year-on-year, we’re talking about the importance of stable food production. It’s not a protectionist approach to agriculture; it’s a wider barometer for the state of the agri-food industry.
“Farming goes so much further than the rural community. Even people living in urban areas want good food, good jobs and a thriving environment – these are entirely our aims too and I hope that we can work with the right people to achieve this.”