British food and farming is in the spotlight like never before and we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to help shape its future.
Six weeks ago, Defra secretary, Michael Gove, launched the Health and Harmony consultation, a command paper to develop a new policy for food, farming and the environment post-Brexit.
This is arguably the most significant development in government for farming since the end of World War II and the passing of the 1947 Agriculture Act.
This wide-ranging consultation provides us all with an opportunity to herald a new era – nothing short of a new agricultural revolution that enables British farmers to continue delivering high quality, safe, affordable and responsibly produced food, and to demonstrate the contribution we make to our nation.
The combined sectors of UK food and farming provide jobs for 3.8 million people. We grow the raw ingredients for the UK’s largest manufacturing sector – food and drink – which contributes £112bn to the country’s economy.
But given the clear importance of food production, its apparent absence from the command paper is puzzling to say the least, and most especially to farmers who are rightly proud of what they deliver and of their world-leading standards in food production and animal welfare.
As caretakers of 70% of the iconic British landscape, we take our responsibilities very seriously.
It’s clear that farming delivers on so many fronts: socially, environmentally and economically. As we leave the CAP, we need to strike a new deal with society and government.
A new farming policy needs to be fair to all active farm businesses, irrespective of size or system and, most importantly, support those who take the business risk. Any changes need to provide enough time and certainty to plan, adapt and invest.
We have a vision for British farming to be more profitable, productive and competitive outside of the EU; a future where British farming can continue to be respected by society for its high standards of food production, environmental care and animal welfare.
Prioritising fair, transparent and secure returns through functioning supply chains is also key, as well as ensuring policies and the new regulatory framework are practical and in proportion to market value.
And last, but by no means least, we need a commercially focused, ambitious Brexit where we access new markets and where consumers across the globe want to buy British product because of its world-beating standards.
Brexit has handed us the chance to shape a new agriculture policy. It is absolutely vital to ensure our voices are heard loud and clear by government and MPs ahead of the 8 May deadline for the consultation. Please join the debate and speak up for farming’s future.
Have your say
Alternatively, email your views to the NFU’s Brexit team at Brexit@nfu.org.uk by 27 April, or email Defra at email@example.com