Peter Kendall, the newly-elected president of the NFU, has announced his immediate policy priorities for the coming months.
Speaking at his first press conference since his election in February, Mr Kendall outlined the attitude, priorities and vision of the new officer holder team.
“We’re looking forward to a new era in farming – one which is positive and profitable.
“Last week’s announcement of the lifting of the beef embargo was the best news we’ve had as an industry for a decade. Let’s make it a turning point for us.”
The team’s immediate policy priorities will be:
Single Farm Payment
“We want farmers to start building for the future but they are still wading through paperwork at a time when they should be moving on. We have a number of major concerns- one is that the process will continue to drag on; confusion and lack of clarity over the rules; how fruit and vegetable growers will be treated; trading difficulties and the risk that the 2006 process will get off on the wrong foot. The NFU will do what it can to improve matters, by working with other partners.”
“The English programme for 2007-13 has to be submitted by June. We are working quickly to refine our priorities, in the light of new funding arrangements. Hill farming payments are a priority for us.”
“It is vital that we achieve a commitment to future match funding of rural development, in order to minimize modulation.”
“We are working for a genuine partnership and a fair package, including valuations, pre-movement testing and eradication of all sources of infection.”
Nitrate Vulnerable Zones
“The imminent consultation on a revised action programme is a vital issue for many farmers, particularly dairy farmers.”
Supply chain imbalance
“The announcement of another OFT enquiry is welcome, but the remit seems too narrow, and we must beware that the inquiry (which is likely to last two years) is not used as an excuse for inaction. We need to attack this problem from many angles, not just the statutory route.”
“We will be looking to the budget announcement on March 22 for further progress on biofuels and biomass.”
“So far we have avoided the disease, we have not suffered too much from scare-mongering and consumption has held up. But we have suffered the knock-on consequences of the export bans on France, and falls in consumption on the continent. Action at EU level is almost certainly required.”
Mr Kendall and the office holder team have also developed eight key priorities which they hope will form the backbone of a policy and business plan for the NFU.
The eight priorities are:
• Presenting a positive image of modern agriculture.
• Working for profitable production in agriculture and horticulture
• Differentiating British products
• Removing discrimination against British farmers wherever it may occur
• Working towards a properly functioning and transparent food chain.
• Reducing the burden of regulation on farmers and ensuring regulations are based on sound science and evidence
• Developing sound and genuine partnerships
• Using research, development and science to the benefit of agriculture and horticulture
For more on Mr Kendall’s plans for the future, see Farmers Weekly magazine out on Friday 17 March.