Yorkshire farmer Ian Backhouse has been elected chairman of the NFU‘s combinable crops board. Mr Backhouse, of Goole, succeeds Arthur Hill who has steeps down after two terms in office. Jim Meadows from Stratford was elected vice-chairman.

Following his election, Mr Backhouse said insuring the practical implementation of the nitrates directive would be amongst his top priorities.

“2008 brings a number of challenges, at home and in Brussels. The expansion of NVZ legislation has the potential to cause real problems, and the cover crop threat to spring cropping on arable farms has not gone away. We will continue to work with DEFRA to implement a practical Nitrates Action Plan for England.

“We will build on progress with DEFRA and plant breeders achieved over the last year to improve access to the genetic potential of seeds and help to ensure everyone has access to farm-saved seed where they have a need.

“We will cooperate in a review of the EU regulations to help identify and implement efficiencies in bringing plant varieties to market without weakening the standard of certified seed available to farmers.

CAP Health Check

“The CAP Health Check gives us a number of opportunities for better regulation, where we will continue to drive towards the abolition of set-aside by any name. We also need to continue in our aim for fully decoupled markets ensuring a level playing field.

“In this time of volatility it is appropriate to retain an intervention safety net for a range of cereals while alternative risk management tools are developed and expanded.

“On the environment, we will continue to lobby government to introduce any environmental enhancements through Environmental Stewardship and not cross compliance, and to develop more efficient supplies for energy from agricultural land.”

Mr Backhouse said he also wanted to ensure accuracy and fairness in the debate in the press over issues of the sustainability of biofuels, adding that measures supporting the government’s renewable transport fuel obligation would reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen protection of important habitats both in the UK and globally.