Party conference season began last weekend (19-22 September 2020) with Labour’s online conference replacement event, “Labour Connected”. Despite the virtual proceedings, the NFU had a strong presence at the conference, using the opportunity to take our key points to the heart of the party’s decision makers.
As well as attending small roundtable discussions with the Leader of the Opposition Sir Kier Starmer MP, Shadow International Trade Secretary Emily Thornberry MP and Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer Anneliese Dodds MP, the NFU took part in and hosted two virtual fringe events.
NFU Deputy President Stuart Roberts in conversation with Shadow Defra Secretary Luke Pollard MP
Shadow Defra Secretary Luke Pollard joined NFU Deputy President Stuart Roberts at the NFU’s Westminster office on Monday evening for a positive and engaging discussion centred around some of the pertinent issues facing Britain’s farmers that was available exclusively for NFU members.
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Mr Pollard commended British farmers and highlighted the importance of back British farmers by buying British food. “British beef has some of the lowest carbon footprint of beef produced in the western world.” He also stressed the importance of buying seasonal fruit and vegetable to reduce your carbon footprint.
"I don't think we've got a good enough appreciation of what's in season at any one time." @LukePollard wants the British public to #BackBritishFarming and buy seasonal fruit and veg.— NFU Political (@NFUPolitical) September 21, 2020
What's in season at the moment? Check out our guide to find out ?????? https://t.co/7KZMMRCTso
He also talked about the success of the NFUs food standards campaign to date, highlighting that "the NFU's petition that got a million signatures was an incredible piece of lobbying."
“The farming community manages a huge amount of our natural water-cycle.” Mr Pollard recognised the role that farmers play in managing water as the original countryside stewards but stressed that farmers are absolutely essential to the future success of water policy in Britain.
NFU Deputy President @HertsFarmer and Shadow Defra Secretary @LukePollard rounded off the NFU's virtual fringe event at @UKLabour's Connected conference by discussing British agriculture's aspirations to achieve #NetZero by 2040. pic.twitter.com/9QYtESnHdG— NFU Political (@NFUPolitical) September 21, 2020
During the discussion, Mr Pollard was keen to highlight one of the best ways that British farmers can get their message across to MPs: “The most powerful bit of advocacy is getting MPs onto farm – invite them to don wellies and get involved with their rural community.” If you would like to invite your local MP onto your farm, make sure you contact the NFU’s external affairs team who can help you arrange a visit.
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The NFU also joined the Fabian Society, with NFU Deputy President Stuart Roberts on the panel alongside Shadow Farming Minister Daniel Zeichner MP, Jackie Jones, former Member of European Parliament for Wales, and Doina Cornell, Labour leader of Stroud Council.
Both Mr Roberts and Mr Zeichner took the opportunity to reflect on the importance of maintaining the high level of environmental and animal welfare standards that British farmers produce to. Mr Roberts stated that trade would have the biggest influence on agriculture and asserted that, if we do not reflect our values and the values of society, we will just export our conscience elsewhere. Mr Zeichner re-iterated that Defra should enshrine our food standards in law to protect British farmers.
The Q&A from audience participants generated some interesting discussion covering some of the key topics facing Britain’s farmers. Mr Zeichner noted the current confluence of difficult circumstances faced by farmers, including bad weather, a lack of certainty with Brexit, and the Agriculture Bill. He added that future policy should enable the production of more fruit and vegetables on British soil.
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