The EU Referendum: Ensuring our members are informed

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As the UK’s largest agricultural membership organisation, we have taken responsibility for ensuring members have access to high quality and objective information.

Since NFU Council resolved that the NFU will not advise its members on how to vote, but will continue to provide members with information from both sides of the campaign relevant to farming, we have been busy doing just that.

The NFU's Road to the Referendum…

Now that the dust has started to settle, we will continue to keep our members up-to-date. For the very latest news and developments visit our dedicated EU Referendum channel on NFUonline.

- Keeping farming at the heart of the story

The NFU made sure farming was a central part of the story following Friday’s historic decision to leave the European Union. In the first 36 hours post-vote the NFU media team secured coverage in 232 news outlets. The coverage came at no cost to the NFU but industry experts valued the work at more than £300,000. Get a flavour of where our staff, officeholders and members appeared here.


- Immediately following the result

During and after the vote, we ensured that our members were kept up-to-date with all of the latest news. From the moment the polling stations closed, we live-tweeted commentary and updates from our team in Brussels and here at NFU HQ.

As soon as the result was declared, we released an initial statement outlining what the NFU’s next steps and priorities will be going forward. NFU President Meurig Raymond released a message to all members, explaining how the NFU’s leading role in ensuring policies are in place for a profitable, productive and competitive farming industry is now even more vital.

Recently appointed NFU Director General Terry Jones also outlined why the NFU is more important than ever and how the NFU plans to work towards achieving our ultimate goal – a profitable, sustainable and resilient future for British farming.

In addition to the above, on the day of the result we also published:

Our members also received a special edition of NFU Bulletin, rounding up all of the day’s events.

- Since the NFU Council resolution

On a national level, the NFU has published a series of print and digital articles in British Farmer and Grower, our national e-newsletters and on our dedicated NFUonline EU Referendum channel. This information has also been promoted across our social channels, reaching tens of thousands of people.

Our staff have taken part in debates and have appeared at industry events to talk about the potential impact on British farming of a vote to leave, or remain in, the European Union.

Both members and staff have appeared on national and international radio, on television, websites and in the press, reaching a potential audience of millions and contributing to outlets including Sky News, ITV News at Ten, BBC News, the BBC website, BBC Daily Poltics, BBC Countryfile Magazine, Channel 4, Channel 5 News, the World Service, Reuters, the Daily Mirror, the Mail, The Economist, The Guardian, France 24, BBC Radio 4, CNN, Al Jazeera, Norwegian, Irish, Russian and Japanese news stations and various others.

On a more local level, our regional teams have met MPs and MEPs on-farm and taken part in print and radio interviews. We've also held referendum branch and county meetings where our members heard from NFU policy experts and MEPs and MPs from both side of the debate.

- NFU Council agrees resolution on the EU Referendum
Following the regional member meetings, survey work and a substantial discussion at NFU Council, NFU Council adopted a resolution on the 18th April setting out the NFU’s position on the EU Referendum:

The NFU recognises and respects the diversity of views among its membership. The NFU’s position is based solely on an evaluation of the agricultural merits of the case and the NFU is fully aware there are many wider issues at stake.

The NFU will not be actively campaigning in the referendum; it will not be joining with any campaign groups and it will not, in any circumstances, advise its members how to vote.

It is, however, the case that the Electoral Commission rules governing the referendum in effect mean that the NFU will be required to register to enable it to continue to carry out its essential role of informing members of the issues as they affect farmers.

The NFU Council resolves that on the balance of existing evidence available to us at present, the interests of farmers are best served by our continuing membership of the European Union.

Whether the vote is to stay or to leave, the NFU will always lobby to obtain the best possible deal for British farmers.

- NFU survey on the EU Referendum
In the Spring of 2016, the NFU conducted a telephone survey of its membership. Members across England were asked if they thought the NFU should take a position, based solely on whether the interests of British agriculture would be best served by the UK remaining a member of the EU, or leaving the EU.

The results showed that 69% wanted the NFU to take a position. It was once again clear that while members wanted the NFU to give leadership within the debate, that they didn’t know what the position should be.

- EU Referendum regional meetings
The results of the Wageningen Report were presented at 28 NFU member meetings in April. These meetings gave thousands of our members the opportunity to view the findings and discuss the issues at hand.

- NFU16: Farmers to hear Brexit debate
At our annual conference in February the NFU hosted an in/out EU debate. More than 1,300 conference delegates from England and Wales heard views from the two opposing sides of the EU Referendum vote and were given an opportunity to put their questions on the future of EU membership to the speakers.

- The Wageningen Report
In January 2016 the NFU commissioned a world-leading agricultural research institute - the LEI at Wageningen University - to consider the impact on farming of a number of possible trade and farm support scenarios that would be open to the UK Government in the event of the country voting to leave the EU.

- UK Farming’s Relationship with the EU report
In September 2015, we produced our UK Farming’s Relationship with the EU report, which sets out all the issues at hand and asked a number of key questions which demanded answers should the country decide to leave the EU.