Farmer Focus: Turnout disappoints despite NFU’s best efforts

I attended a meeting organised by the NFU about the Health and Harmony paper last week.

Held in a sports centre in Ware, this meeting attracted mainly Hertfordshire farmers and we had about 40 attendees, while an earlier meeting in Cambridgeshire got an audience of 70.

For such an incredibly important subject, these attendance figures were disappointing and even then only achieved by some very proactive work by local and regional NFU staff texting, emailing and ringing around members.

The presentation given by the head of the NFU’s Brexit team was very informative and candid.

See also: Act now to influence farm policy, Defra advises

It is vital with the closing date of the consultation period just10 days away that Defra gets as many submissions from farmers as possible.

Don’t leave it up to the NFU and other farming unions and associations, as their responses will only count as one submission.

You can find everything you need to respond to the consultation directly on the Defra website. Your response can either be through the government’s “Citizens’ space”, where you can complete a web-based questionnaire, or you can submit your own response by emailing Defra.

Private versus public goods

There will be lots of submissions from NGOs, environmental groups and other organisations, so it is vital that we make our points of view heard.

I learned at the meeting that food production is considered to be private goods and not public goods.

An important point made is how farmers need to make all aware how much they are part of the rural fabric, and how much voluntary work they carry out by cutting hedges, verges and churchyards as well as things such as snow clearing and the seemingly daily task of dealing with fly-tipping.

It is just seven weeks now to the 2018 Cereals event we are hosting again at Chrishall Grange. We are busy establishing some 8ha of cover crops where growers will be able to see different mixes and several drills at work during the event.

This is a new venture for the event and one of many changes being implemented by the new organisers in seeking to make the event a “must-attend”.

Robert Law farms 1,700ha on the Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Essex borders growing cereals, mustard, a range of forage crops for seed, sugar beet, up to 200ha of catchcrop stubble turnips and 300ha of grass supporting a flock of 2,500 ewes. All land farmed is in environmental stewardship schemes. He also manages 500ha of sandland in Nottinghamshire.