Farmers must overcome huge hurdles to meet the challenges of producing more food while enhancing the environment, NFU vice-president Adam Quinney has warned.

Speaking at the Norfolk Farming Conference, Mr Quinney set out the potential for British farmers to increase production, displace imports and further protect and enhance the environment. But farmers had to overcome huge hurdles to meet that challenge, he said.

“I am confident that farmers and growers will deliver in these vitally important areas – after all, we are the sort of people who rise to a challenge,” Mr Quinney told delegates at the John Innes Centre, Norwich, on Thursday (21 February). “But we can’t do this in isolation.”

Speaking on the theme “British farming: delivering at home and abroad”, Mr Quinney said the farming industry he joined 30 years ago had changed almost beyond recognition, with promising long-term prospects.

“Our industry is well-placed to help deliver jobs and economic growth in 2013 and, further ahead, to become a major energy, as well as a major food supplier.”

But delivering on its potential would require significant changes in the way the supply chain operated. It would also require “bold, fresh policy thinking” by government, he said.

As production was stepped up, it was important that the reputation of British farmers and the integrity of British food was maintained, said Mr Quinney. This was especially important in light of the recent horsemeat scandal.

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