Farmer Focus: NFU membership worth every penny

I was lucky enough to be asked to join the south-east delegation at the NFU conference recently. It has long been on my bucket list and I went hoping to find out more about how the NFU works.

I had various preconceived ideas about the leadership elections and the mechanisms of lobbying in the interests of farming.

The election process was much as I expected, with those in the know huddling in corners to plan their strategy.

See also: Read more from our arable Farmer Focus writers

What really impressed me was all the hard work both the professional staff and the volunteers put in to make sure farmers’ voice is heard in places where the decisions that affect our businesses are made.

I came away having heard some brilliant speakers, who inspired as well as informed, and my overall opinion was that our membership was worth every hard-earned penny.

I have a few comments from speakers to share with you. My favourite was: “Vegetarians have a lower sperm count, so in a couple of generations we will have rid ourselves of the problem.”

“Vote with your head, not your heart” was an often-repeated phrase. Finally, a quote from the Defra secretary Liz Truss: “It will be better next year.”

Meanwhile, back at home, progress has been made in getting some fertiliser on the ground as travelling conditions start to improve, but the soil needs to dry out considerably before we think about the spring crops.

We have had plenty to occupy us since Christmas as we have demolished an old bin grain storage building.

The past month has seen us hard at work getting the groundworks completed before the builders move in to construct our new on-floor store.

For farming, the EU referendum really is a case of staying in, despite all the problems Brussels throws at us.

I can see the arguments on both sides, but the economic case for remaining part of one of the largest trading partners in the world is very strong.

We need to be able to fight our corner from within, rather than looking on with no voice.

Simon Beddows manages 1,000ha of arable land at Dunsden Green, south Oxfordshire. Cropping is cereals, oilseed rape, beans and forage maize.

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