An introduction from NFU Director General Terry Jones
The challenge for the NFU this year, as it was last year, has been to deliver positive change on the issues which touch members’ businesses today while working on the longer-term challenges for food and farming.
Moreover, we need to push for the best deal for farming at the highest levels of government while having the structure and expertise in place to make sure our farming members are effectively represented at a local and regional level.
Crucially, we have the strength and depth within the organisation to complete these tasks, for instance: simultaneously lobbying for police services and Government to tackle the scourge of rural crime while advancing the best interests of British farming in the Brexit discussions and plenty more besides.
To manage the evolving policy landscape while continuing to be the voice of British farming, NFU staff and members must be effective campaigners, convenors and co-ordinators.
Back British Farming Day, the joint industry and government drought summit and the response to the Government consultation on the future of agricultural policy demonstrates how one NFU can lead the industry through even the most uncertain times. And to maintain that position we continue to invest heavily in our staff and increasingly in our members to equip them with the skills to be authentic advocates and effective activists for British farming.
As the number of issues facing farming grows, we have needed to recruit more staff, especially in critical areas such as our Group Secretary network, communications and policy.
To sustain that, we need at the same time to attend to our financial resilience. Our 2,000 Days plan has seen us continue to develop sources of non-subscription income, examine our costs and seek out efficiencies where we can.
Thanks to the hard work of staff and members alike, our subscription income also grew last year. Indeed, on a like for like basis, income, the area and the numbers of farmers and growers we represent have all increased.
This is crucially important for our financial resilience but also our representative power. At a time of challenge from different quarters we are proud to have a politically strong union that has access to and commands the respect of the most important stakeholders for farming business.
It is a great privilege to lead the NFU’s staff and work closely with its members. I am pleased to report that our organisation continues to be in good health in the areas that matter most – policy expertise, share of voice in the media, financial resilience, and representative power.
I know our members will expect us to make the case for the best conditions for British farming to thrive both now and in the future. Rest assured we are fully focussed on this objective and we are determined to make the voice of British farming heard where it matters most, creating a better future for our members.