Let”s give the NFU team a chance: Opinion Letters

Let”s give the NFU team a chance

I was dismayed to read Bob Forsyth”s opinions (Letters, Nov 12) on the views of the NFU”s new communication director. Either he has not looked closely at Ms Oliver”s view or has misinterpreted it. I was privileged recently to hear the whole of the new communications strategy and to meet the communications team. It has been nearly a year in the making and the result is a team full of vigour, professionalism, youth and experience in their own fields. They are all self-driven and will strive to ensure they get their message across without alienating customers. Mr Forsyth demonstrates a clear misunderstanding of the NFU”s work. As a new council delegate, I was astonished at the amount of time NFU officeholders and staff spend in discussion with government ministers and civil servants at DEFRA and other ministries. Most legislation driving agriculture comes from Europe and our government officials need our help in implementing legislation in a field in which many have little or no experience. Government would not work with bodies such as the NFU unless it genuinely trusted its views. The access the NFU has to official ears would not happen if we became too aggressive and belligerent in our approach. While we have the ears of the officials in Whitehall, so do others who have interests in environmental, animal welfare and countryside groups, all of which represent far more voters than farmers. The job of communications within the NFU must also win over these groups, too. We at the NFU have a new communications team and a new strategy which aims to show us for what we are: Serious, professional and determined. We are the only voice positively promoting the whole of British agriculture, so stop being negative and give Ms Oliver and her team a chance. Ian Backhouse NFU council delegate, Backhouse Farms, The Fernery, Goole, East Yorks

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