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Farming's importance 'never been clearer', NFU says in new year message

The importance of British farming to deliver food and energy has 'never been clearer' following this past year, NFU President Minette Batters has said in her new year message.

Following an unprecedented year for farming, Mrs Batters has looked back on 2022 while considering the issues facing the coming year.

From the Ukraine war, which has created global turmoil by disrupting food and energy supply chains, to the UK's own political upheavals, she said the challenges faced had been unprecedented.

On top of the Ukraine war, there have been soaring input costs and the effects of climate change demonstrated by this year’s drought.

In her new year message, the NFU president highlighted the importance of British farming to deliver food and energy.

"Clearly, events over the last year have made the job of producing food throughout the world so much harder," she said.

"It is clear the nation continues to value our high food standards, produced to world-leading animal welfare and environmental protection, as well as our ability to produce renewable energy and contribute to the nation’s energy security."

Despite a challenging year, Mrs Batters noted that there were a number of successes as a result of NFU campaigning over the past 12 months.

This includes an increase in the number of seasonal workers visas for farmers and growers who employ the skilled workforce needed to produce fruit, vegetables and ornamentals next year.

Meanwhile, funding from government has been secured to level up rural communities through the Rural England Prosperity Fund.

Mrs Batters added: "I was very pleased to be able to end the year with a meeting with the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, where I pressed, again, the importance of food security and home grown food production."

"In the summer, he made a commitment to monitor food self-sufficiency and I am reassured that he continues to take this issue very seriously.

"It was clear from my meeting with the Prime Minister that he has the same ambition as us for British food and farming."

She said Mr Sunak must honour his pledge made in August to support farmers by setting a target for the UK's food security, with a statutory duty to report on domestic food levels.

"We need clarity on policies like the Environmental Land Management schemes, which will ensure we are able to plan financial resilience into our businesses and continue to produce climate-friendly food alongside green energy."

Her new year message concluded by saying 2022 had been an 'extraordinary year', adding: "I am hopeful that 2023 will be the year that the government gets serious about British food and farming."

"The NFU will be focusing on these areas to build resilience and profitability back to British farming no matter what the next year brings," she said.


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