Letter to The Times in response to 'Greener Pastures' column

26 February 2024

A letter from NFU President Tom Bradshaw has been published in The Times in response to The Times's leader column, 'Greener Pastures'.

The article made several claims about farming, including suggestions that farmers are benefitting from the cost of living crisis, that they should diversify away from food production as subsidies decline, and that more needs to be done to tackle agricultural pollution.

To the editor,

With reference to your leading article about cutting subsidies to farmers (“Greener Pastures”, Feb 21), the idea that the cost of living crisis is benefiting farmers is wrong, and deeply upsetting for farming families, who are feeling the crisis as keenly as the rest of the country.

Retail price increases rarely make their way back to farmers and growers, who are also suffering inflationary costs for energy, feed, fuel and fertiliser. I know many farmers — particularly those producing fruit and vegetables, dairy and poultry — who are cutting production or seriously considering their futures because they cannot afford to keep going.

Your article also suggested that farmers needed to diversify away from food production to remain profitable, but if they did so, where would our food come from?

As war and climate change wreak havoc on food production across the world, we cannot rely on imports.

To ensure that we have a profitable and productive farming sector we need the right regulatory framework, centred on a fair and resilient food supply chain. The UK’s food security depends on it, which is why it must be a priority for our government and stress-tested against all policy development, whichever party is in power.

Tom Bradshaw
NFU President