Farmers are being urged to have their say on the government’s post-Brexit plans for UK agriculture.
Hundreds of growers and livestock producers are expected to make their voices heard at dozens of NFU Brexit roadshows held across the country.
The first of the roadshows is taking place in Wiltshire on Monday (19 March).
Farmers at the events will discuss plans laid out in a government consultation paper launched by Defra secretary Michael Gove last month.
The consultation proposes phasing out direct payments to farmers and replacing them with a system that rewards producers who undertake environmental measures and other “public goods”.
It comes amid news that London and Brussels have agreed a Brexit transitional period will last from when the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019 until December 2020.
Prime minister Theresa May said last week that Brexit was a “historic opportunity” for the government to deliver a farming policy that would work for the whole food industry.
Mrs May acknowledged the importance of British food production to the nation and commended the work of “hard-working farmers” during Prime Minister’s Questions.
Her comments came in response to a question from Neil Parish MP.
NFU president Minette Batters said: “British farmers are performing a vital role producing the raw ingredients for the nation’s largest manufacturing sector – food and drink.
“It is essential that this is fully recognised by the government and I welcome the prime minister’s support and thank Neil Parish for asking this important question during PMQs.”
Delivering a domestic farming policy that worked for the whole industry would be crucial to the nation’s ability to produce food, said Mrs Batters.
The NFU would continue to make a strong case for a profitable, productive and competitive future for British farming, she added.
“British farmers have a unique and irreplaceable role in producing 61% of the nation’s food while also looking after 70% of the nation’s land.
“The British public are rightly proud of the high-quality British food that farmers produce.”
“We strongly believe that access to this safe, traceable and affordable food is a public right and essential to each and every one of us.”
This meant British food should be seen by the government as a public good.
A full list of NFU roadshow events is available on the NFU’s website. Farmers interested in attending should contact their regional NFU office.