The NFU's presence during party conference season provides a vital opportunity for in-depth discussion with policymakers, and a platform to explain the importance of farming at this critical political time, engaging directly with influencers and decision makers, including ministers, advisers and journalists.
This year, the NFU's exhibition stand at both the Labour and Conservative party conferences focused on the importance of farming to the economy, farming’s ambition for net zero, and the NFU's education work. It also highlighted the role robots will play on farm in the future, such as mapping fields and targeting specific activity to improve crops, complete with a hands-on demonstration of a mapping robot - Robot Tom - from the Small Robot Company.
Conference delegates were invited to pledge their support for British farming by signing a wheat pin badge and to sample food and drink from NFU members' businesses, including apple and rhubarb juice, sheep’s milk hard cheese and vanilla and blackberry ice cream.
NFU President Minette Batters said:
“This is such a valuable opportunity to showcase our sector and engage with both MPs and prospective parliamentary candidates. It’s crucial all politicians understand how important it is to connect with their farmers and rural communities and recognise how much they deliver for the nation and what more they can do with the right policies in place.”
Conservative party conference, Manchester, 29 September - 2 October
The NFU's activities at the Conservative party conference got off to a flying start on Sunday with Environment Minister Rebecca Pow, International Trade Minister Conor Burns, Brexit Minister James Duddridge and Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace among the first delegates calling in at the exhibition stand to discuss the issues and pledge their support for British farming.
The NFU co-hosted a reception on the stand on the Sunday evening with the Food and Drink Federation and UK Hospitality which was attended by Defra Minister George Eustice, who spoke to the gathered delegates.
The stand proved a popular attraction for delegates throughout the conference. A total of 701 delegates signed up to support the Back British Farming campaign during the event and enjoyed sampling Wobblegate apple and rhubarb juice from Sussex and ice cream from Daresbury Dairy in Cheshire.
A large number of MPs and prospective parliamentary candidates stopped by the stand for conversations about the impact of Brexit and climate change on farming. Five cabinet ministers met with NFU officeholders on stand including Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay and Defra Secretary of State Theresa Villiers.
Pictured above: Defra Minister George Eustice spoke to attendees at the NFU's joint reception with FDF and UK Hospitality
More pictures from the NFU's exhibition stand at the Conservative party conference in Manchester:
Labour party conference, Brighton, 21-25 September
Almost 300 delegates signed a wheat pin badge at the Labour party conference, while more than 50 took part in the interactive activity - demonstration field mapping using Robot Tom.
The stand played host to four members of the shadow cabinet, MPs from across the country and a number of prospective candidates. On Sunday evening a reception was held on the stand, co-hosted by the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) and the Hospitality Association. NFU President Minette Batters spoke at the event and welcomed Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Sue Hayman to the stand.
This year's stand was also voted second in the Delegate’s Choice category. Eddie Izzard presented the award (pictured below).
More pictures of the NFU's stand at the Labour party conference:
Scroll down for key Twitter moments from the NFU's presence at the Labour party conference this year - follow @NFUPolitical here for the latest from Westminster.
See also: NFU holds constructive debate at Labour party conference
Read more about our flagship campaign, Back British Farming: