NFU president invites chancellor to his farm

NFU president Peter Kendall has invited chancellor of the exchequer Alistair Darling to his Beds farm to show him that UK agriculture is a professional and productive industry that can contribute to the nation’s food security.

The invitation follows the chancellor’s “out of touch” comments on the CAP, Mr Kendall explained.

Launching a TAG open day celebrating 100 years of independent research at the Norfolk-based organisation’s headquarters, he welcomed the fact that food security was at last being discussed at DEFRA.

“How many times have we got to bang the drum before they hear us? Alleluia!” he said.

Image of farmers

Media interest in the ability of the world to feed itself and the challenges that created was considerable, and yet DEFRA’s two key targets remained climate change and biodiversity, he said.

“There’s no target whatever for productivity.”

Mr Kendall added that a recent meeting with the department’s chief scientist it was clear that the image of farmers, for example as haphazard users of increasingly expensive fertilisers, remained out-dated.

“They still thought farmers just threw it on,” he said. “I find the notion that I wasn’t taking advice and making sure my machinery was well calibrated patronising. It was treating me like the village idiot.

“Government needs to wake up and see that as businesses we have a vested interest in doing it right.”

Bizarre call

Pointing out that when food was cheap no-one invested, and describing Mr Darling’s call for the abolition of the CAP as “bizarre”, he highlighted the need for changes in the taxation rules on buildings allowances.

“The chancellor doesn’t have any grasp on what agriculture is about.

“I’m delighted that farmers are back in the news. We need to tell everyone about our industry – it’s important, exciting and forward-looking, not a ‘pain in the backside’.”