Coronavirus: What the NFU is doing to help members

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The NFU is working to provide clarity for members on what the coronavirus outbreak and its impacts will mean for farm businesses. As more information becomes available, we will be updating our advice to members page and our Q&A on the impact or coronavirus in the workplace.

This page will provide regular updates of work NFU staff are doing on members’ behalf.

Coronavirus: Updates and advice

This news hub on NFUonline will be updated regularly to keep you up to date with what you need to know and how to deal with the various issues raised by coronavirus. Visit the hub.

Friday 22 May:

11.30

Business and rural affairs adviser Amy Cobbett has a call with the Rural Impacts stakeholder group which will focus on rural tourism.


09.50

NFU in the news

Business Green features an in-depth interview with NFU President Minette Batters conducted prior to lockdown about the NFU’s commitment to net zero. She said that agriculture is a solution to climate change and expressed frustration with the focus on dietary change. She also covered Brexit in detail, arguing that if Britain’s food standards are undermined, it would severely harm British farming businesses, and therefore seriously hamper the industry's ability to deliver on its 2040 net zero promise.


Thursday 21 May:

15.00

Procurement and food service adviser Bethan Williams and combinable crops adviser Chloe Lockhart have a call with Heineken to discuss the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak and issues for malting barley and hops.


13.30

NFU President Minette Batters is hosting a conference call briefing with members of the House of Lords.


12.00

Around 170 responses have been received so far to the NFU’s online survey about the availability of PPE. The survey is being carried out to help the NFU better understand disruption to the usual supply of face masks and other PPE in agriculture. Find out more and complete the survey here.


11.10

NFU Vice President Tom Bradshaw and Director General Terry Jones took part in a roundtable meeting with Defra Secretary of State George Eustice and other industry leaders yesterday about seasonal labour. Among the issues discussed were the Pick for Britain campaign and how industry has worked together to make it work, and the labour needs of growers for this year’s harvest.


10.05

Director General Terry Jones and director of EU exit and international trade Nick von Westenholz had a call with the CBI and other industry leaders where issues around the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme were discussed.


09.30

Head of food and farming Philip Hambling had a call with the Food Industry Resilience Forum where issues around food supply, dairy, seasonal labour and EU exit planning were all discussed.


09.10

NFU President Minette Batters was quoted in a piece in The Guardian outlining the NFU’s asks for the new Trade Bill, while NFU Vice President Tom Bradshaw and horticulture and potatoes board chairman Ali Capper were both quoted in a piece about the Pick for Britain campaign.


08.45

Web portal for potato trading

AHDB has launched an online portal to help put potato growers and wholesale buyers in touch with each other. The portal will act as a ‘match-making’ site for growers and merchants to find each other, with any trade taking place directly between the two parties. The NFU was involved in its development. Read more here.


Wednesday 20 May:

15.45

Chief EU exit and international trade adviser Gail Soutar has provided an insight into what the government's recently announced UK Global Tariff Schedule could mean for British farmers and growers. Members can read more, including a detailed briefing on what the announcement means for each sector, here.


15.00

The combinable crops team has its weekly call with the Cereal Liaison Group, which includes stakeholders from the whole supply chain, to discuss ongoing and emerging issues for the sector in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.


14.15

NFU Vice President Tom Bradshaw and Director General Terry Jones are taking part in a roundtable meeting with Defra Secretary of State George Eustice and other industry leaders about seasonal labour.


12.45

Virtual organic farm walk

The NFU Organic Forum is holding a virtual organic farm walk focusing on the challenges of net zero on June 23 between 1pm and 3pm. This will replace the usual summer farm walks and will give both conventional and organic farmers the opportunity to gain a better understanding of farming organically. Read more and register here.


12.15

Senior regulatory affairs adviser Chris Hartfield and vice chair of the COPA Working Party on phytosanitary questions Guy Smith are taking part in a COPA meeting on phytosanitary issues.


11.20

Senior European policy adviser Katie Jarvis and economist Priya Punj are taking part in a European Council of Young Farmers (CEJA) working group meeting.


10.40

Flood management and access policy adviser Dr Mhari Barnes has a Natural England outdoor recreation and access stakeholder group call to discuss the COVID-19 outbreak and access issues.


10.00

NFU in the news

The Press Association covered NFU President Minette Batters’ letter to MPs urging them to ask how the Government will honour its manifesto pledge that environmental and animal welfare standards for food produced in the UK will not be undermined in future trade policy.


Tuesday 19 May:

16.00

NFU President Minette Batters and director of EU exit and international trade Nick von Westenholz have a call with the Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade, Emily Thornberry.


15.05

PPE availability survey

The NFU wants to better understand disruption to the usual supply of face masks and other PPE in agriculture and is asking members to complete an online survey. The availability of PPE changes each week so even if you completed the survey last week we would like to hear from you again and how things may have changed for you.


12.30

NFU President Minette Batters and director of EU exit and international trade Nick von Westenholz are hosting a conference call briefing with Conservative MPs ahead of the Second Reading of the Trade Bill.


11.10

The dairy team has a call with the Defra dairy team to discuss the ongoing COVID-19 situation and to raise concerns from the industry response group.


10.15

Head of food and farming Philip Hambling had a call with the Food Industry Resilience Forum where the issue of track and trace and how it will be implemented in the food and farming sector was among the issues discussed.


09.20

Director General Terry Jones had a meeting with Defra Secretary of State George Eustice and other industry leaders yesterday where guidance for businesses and the reopening of out of home food businesses were discussed.


09.10

NFU in the news

NFU potato forum member Robin Cropper was interviewed on Talk Radio and quoted in the Daily Telegraph about the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the potato sector.


08.45

NFU President Minette Batters has written to all MPs ahead of the Second Reading of the Trade Bill in the House of Commons on Wednesday 20 May, repeating the NFU's call for a trade, food and farming standards commission. Read more here.


Monday 18 May:

17.00

Combinable crops and sugar chiefs and chairs are holding a briefing to Council on COVID-19 sector impacts and NFU activity. NFU Vice President Tom Bradshaw is also on the call.


15.45

Acting chief economics adviser Rohit Kaushish had a meeting with UK Finance, the CBI and other trade associations to discuss commercial lending options during the COVID-19 outbreak.


15.05

Business and rural affairs adviser Amy Cobbett has a call with William Rossiter of the Midlands Engine to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on farming and the rural economy.


14.40

The dairy team had its weekly dairy COVID-19 Response Group call with Dairy UK, the UK farming unions and AHDB to discuss the current situation and concerns to feed back to Defra.


14.15

Chief environment adviser Diane Mitchell, environment adviser Ian Ludgate and environment policy adviser Philippa Arnold are speaking with the Environment Agency about matters related to the COVID-19 outbreak.


11.30

Week seven of NFU Education’s #LockdownLearning project with EatFarmNow starts today. This week’s theme is countryside and wildlife.


09.45

NFU in the news

NFU President Minette Batters was on the BBC Radio 4 Any Questions panel on Friday evening, and discussed the easing of lockdown restrictions and farmers’ concerns over countryside access, lessons learnt with regards to supply chains, and frustrations over the Agriculture Bill.


Friday 15 May:

17.20

NFU in the news

NFU President Minette Batters is scheduled to feature on BBC Radio 4 Any Questions at 8pm tonight. With her on the panel will be Labour MP Harriet Harman, Council Chair of the British Medical Association Chaand Nagpaul, and Minister of State at the Department of Health and Social Care Helen Whately. Listen live here.       


15.30

Business and rural affairs adviser Amy Cobbett had a call with the Defra Rural Impacts Stakeholder Group to discuss the rural exit strategy and the implications of the announcement from the government on lifting lockdown.


14.00

Poultry adviser Aimee Mahony had a weekly update with Defra about the impacts of COVID-19 on the laying hen sector. They discussed ongoing challenges such as demand, packaging and PPE.


11.45

NFU Deputy President Stuart Roberts and director of EU exit and international trade Nick von Westenholz had a call with Liz Truss, Secretary of State for International Trade, and Crawford Falconer, Chief Trade Negotiation Adviser and Second Permanent Secretary, to discuss future trade.


10.00

The NFU facilitated a meeting between Defra and ornamental growers to help officials understand what losses members are facing and the impacts COVID-19 is having on their businesses.


Thursday 14 May:

17.35

The NFU has released this week's officeholder video which features Deputy President Stuart Roberts, who outlines how the NFU is continuing to work for its members. Watch it here.


16.00

Acting chief economics adviser Rohit Kaushish and economist Priya Punj have met with Natwest to discuss the bank's COVID-19 response.


15.30

NFU President Minette Batters is chairing a conference call for the UK Farming Organisations’ Roundtable discussing the Agriculture Bill and the impacts of COVID-19.


14.00

NFU President Minette Batters and head of food and farming Phil Hambling had a call with Morrisons about support for British products and transparency in the beef marketplace.


13.00

Chief environment adviser Diane Mitchell and environment policy adviser Philippa Arnold have been speaking to Defra about fly-tipping and the re-opening of Household Waste Recycling Centres.


09.15

Farm safety adviser Tom Price and combinable crops adviser Chloe Lockhart had a meeting with Defra to update them on the NFU’s PPE survey findings so far. The survey is still open and can be accessed here.


Wednesday 13 May:

14.30

The combinable crops team had a call with the Cereal Liaison Group, which includes stakeholders from the whole supply chain, to discuss emerging issues for the sector in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.


12.30

NFU head of policy services Andrea Graham and chief environment adviser Diane Mitchell had a call with Defra on access and Covid-19 issues.


10.45 

NFU flood management and access adviser Mhari Barnes has spoken to Natural England and Defra in the Site Managers Access and Covid-19 Stakeholder Working Group.


09.30

NFU in the news

NFU flood management and access policy adviser Dr Mhari Barnes was featured on the BBC’s Costing the Earth programme, discussing natural flood management and the need for long-term investment to protect communities, homes and businesses.


Tuesday 12 May:

18.30

The NFU has convened a huge coalition of farming, environmental and animal welfare organisations to write to all 650 MPs ahead of the Agriculture Bill debate to urge them to include vital safeguards that will ensure food imports in any potential trade deals meet the same high standards of animal welfare and environmental protection as is expected of UK food producers. The letter is quoted in The Telegraph.


16.10

The dairy team had a call with the Defra dairy team to discuss the COVID-19 situation and raise concerns from the industry response group.


15.30

Poultry adviser Aimee Mahony had a call with the national control programme salmonella group to discuss ongoing issues around the COVID-19 outbreak.


15.00

The NFU’s food and farming chiefs had a call with McDonald’s to talk about the re-opening of McDonald’s supply chains.


14.15

NFU flood management and access adviser Mhari Barnes participated in a Natural England Outdoor Recreation and Access Stakeholder call to discuss COVID-19 issues.


14.00

NFU Vice President Tom Bradshaw and chief horticulture adviser Lee Abbey had a stakeholder update meeting with Defra about seasonal labour.


13.00

NFU President Minette Batters and director of EU exit and international trade Nick von Westenholz hosted a conference call briefing with Conservative MPs ahead of the Agriculture Bill’s report stage.


11.00

NFU President Minette Batters and director of EU exit and international trade Nick von Westenholz briefed members of the national press prior to the report stage of the Agriculture Bill. They reiterated the importance of not agreeing to trade deals that allow the imports of food that would be illegal here and they also discussed the importance of food security, particularly in light of the recent COVID-19 pandemic.


10.15

NFU head of food and farming Phil Hambling attended the Food Resilience Industry Forum with Defra, retailers and food manufacturers where they discussed potential quarantine exemptions for key workers in food production and HGV drivers crossing borders.


10.00

NFU director of policy Andrew Clark and chief environment adviser Diane Mitchell are speaking with The Ramblers about access and COVID-19 issues.


09.30

NFU win: Following the Prime Minister's address on Sunday, the government has confirmed that garden centres will be able to open from Wednesday. Read the NFU's response here.


09.15

Acting chief economics adviser Rohit Kaushish and economist Priya Punj met with the Bank of England to monitor the economic impacts of COVID-19 and discuss government support measures.


09.00

NFU in the news

NFU director of EU exit and international trade Nick von Westenholz featured in BBC Radio 4's Farming Today discussing UK/US trade negotiations, and said that any trade deal must deliver for the British public, British businesses and British farmers.


Monday 11 May:

17.00

Dairy, livestock and poultry chiefs and chairs are holding a briefing to Council on coronavirus sector impacts and NFU activity. NFU Deputy President Stuart Roberts and NFU Vice President Tom Bradshaw are also on the call.


16.30

The NFU has launched a new online survey to assess the disruption to the usual supply of face masks and other PPE in agriculture. Take the survey here.


16.00

Chief poultry adviser Gary Ford had a call with Defra on the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the poultry meat sector.


15.35

NFU poultry board chairman Tom Worham has written to Lidl to restate the NFU’s position on  sourcing British eggs. 


15.00

Foodservice and procurement adviser Bethan Williams and poultry adviser Aimee Mahony are speaking to Nando’s about the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the business and how it will manage the reopening of its business.


14.45

The dairy team had a call with the Dairy COVID-19 Response Group, which includes Dairy UK, the UK farming unions, and AHDB to discuss the ongoing situation and concerns to feed back to Defra.


14.20

Senior planning and rural affairs adviser Suzanne Clear has a meeting with the Deputy Head of Land-Use and other Defra colleagues to discuss planning issues arising from the COVID-19 outbreak.


14.00

Acting chief economics adviser Rohit Kaushish has a meeting with UK Finance, the CBI and other trade associations to discuss commercial lending options during the COVID-19 pandemic.


12.45

NFU President Minette Batters and chief food chain adviser Christine McDowell are having a call with Waitrose to discuss the Pick for Britain campaign.


12.30

NFU flood management and access adviser Mhari Barnes has met with the National Trust, RSPB and Woodland Trust on the implications of easing the lockdown restrictions on access matters following the Prime Minister’s update yesterday.


11.00

NFU President Minette Batters and Director General Terry Jones had a call with Tesco to talk about impacts of the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak and the importance of building resilience into the food industry through the Agriculture Bill, Trade Bill and National Food Strategy.


10.00

Update from the dairy board chairman

In the fourth in a series of articles on coronavirus, NFU dairy board chairman Michael Oakes provides an update on how the coronavirus is impacting the dairy sector and how the NFU is working to support its members. Read more here.


Sunday 10 May:

19.30

President Minette Batters joined other business leaders on a call with the Prime Minister. Convened after his address to the nation, the PM was full of praise for those who work the length of the food chain including those who work in agriculture.


Thursday 7 May:

16.30

NFU horticulture and potatoes board chairman Ali Capper and HTA chairman James Barnes have written an open letter to ornamentals growers explaining how the two organisations have been working together, particularly in requests for information from industry and engagement with MPs and Government on the pressing issues. Read the letter here.


16.20

NFU President Minette Batters took part in a virtual roundtable with new Shadow Chancellor Annaliese Dodds and new Shadow Business Secretary Ed Miliband, alongside senior representatives from business and trade associations from other sectors.


15.15

Head of food and farming Philip Hambling, chief combinable crops adviser Harriette Roberts, chief horticulture adviser Lee Abbey, chief food chain adviser Christine McDowell and foodservice and procurement adviser Bethan Williams had a call with the editor of The Morning Advertiser to learn more about the impact of COVID-19 on the pub and restaurant sectors to help represent cider apple, hops and barley producers who have been impacted by the closure of these outlets.


14.20

Chief livestock adviser John Royle has a call with the Livestock Chain Advisory Group to discuss issues related to the COVID-19 outbreak.


12.30

NFU President Minette Batters has a call with members of the House of Lords to brief them on the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, and also the Agriculture Bill.


11.55

Acting chief economics adviser Rohit Kaushish and economist Priya Punj have a meeting with NatWest/RBS to discuss issues around the COVID-19 outbreak.


11.20

Business and rural affairs adviser Amy Cobbett has a call with the COVID-19 rural impacts stakeholder group which will discuss the impact of the pandemic on rural tourism.


10.50

Head of policy services Andrea Graham and chief environment adviser Diane Mitchell have a call with Defra to discuss COVID-19 issues and access.


10.30

Freshways Q&A

NFU members who have been impacted by changes made by Freshways can now watch a member-exclusive video from NFU dairy and legal experts. Learn more here.


09.30

Head of food and farming Philip Hambling had a call with the Food Industry Resilience Forum where potential considerations for track and trace technology in the food and farming industry were discussed.


09.15

NFU in the news

NFU President Minette Batters is quoted in a story on the BBC News website about the government launching a hardship fund to help dairy farmers overcome the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. Mrs Batters was quoted from Tuesday’s Efra committee hearing where she said dairy farmers were in “absolute crisis”.


Wednesday 6 May:

17.15

NFU President Minette Batters and head of food and farming Philip Hambling had a call with Defra to discuss the suitability of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme for ornamentals growers.


17.00

New fund to support dairy farmers severely hit by COVID-19

NFU win: Following considerable NFU and industry-wide campaigning for urgent help for the dairy sector, Defra has announced details of a new hardship fund to help dairy farmers severely impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. Eligible dairy farmers will be able to access up to £10,000 each. Read more here.


16.30

Foodservice and procurement adviser Bethan Williams spoke to the director of Cask Marque to understand the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the pub, brewery and restaurant sectors.


16.10

Director General Terry Jones attended a Food and Drink Sector Council meeting where resetting and recovering from the COVID-19 outbreak and the latest on the National Food Strategy were among the issues discussed.


15.50

Head of food and farming Philip Hambling, chief livestock adviser John Royle, livestock board chairman Richard Findlay and chief food chain adviser Christine McDowell had a call with Morrisons to discuss red meat sales, what is next for the livestock sector, and continuing to meet the challenge of carcase balancing.


15.15

Update from the horticulture and potatoes board chairman

Horticulture and potatoes board chairman Ali Capper highlights the ongoing challenges of labour, harvest and ornamentals and the continuing work the NFU is doing as the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak continue to be felt. Read more here.


14.50

Economist Priya Punj is attending a webinar organised by the Food and Drink Federation and delivered by Lloyds Bank, where the bank will update on the government funding schemes.


13.55

The combinable crops team has a call with the Cereal Liaison Group, which includes stakeholders from the whole supply chain, to discuss emerging issues for the sector in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.


12.45

Update from the crops board chairman

Combinable crops board chairman Matt Culley provides an update on how the COVID-19 outbreak is impacting on the arable sector, the implications beyond this season, and how the NFU is working to support its members. Read more here.


12.20

Business and rural affairs adviser Amy Cobbett has a meeting with Defra to discuss COVID-19 and its impact on rural businesses.


12.00

Lancashire county adviser Liz Berry hosted a conference call for the new MP for Burnley, Antony Higginbotham, to discuss some of the challenges being faced by farmers in his constituency, predominantly around dairy and red meat. Future trade standards and a deal with the EU were also discussed.


11.45

NFU win: Following lobbying by the NFU, Defra has published guidance for local authorities on how they can safely re-open their household waste and recycling centres (HWRCs). Councils are being encouraged to open sites where social distancing can be maintained, and the public and staff can be kept safe, to avoid the build-up of waste in homes and businesses and reduce the opportunity for fly-tipping. The NFU has repeatedly called for the reopening of HWRCs in its regular discussions with Defra about problems with fly-tipping.


11.35

Update from the poultry board chairman

Poultry board chairman Thomas Wornham gives an update on the situation facing the poultry sector and the NFU’s work with retailers. Read more here.


10.55

Economist Priya Punj and senior European policy adviser Katie Jarvis are attending a European Council of Young Farmers (CEJA) online working group meeting discussing COVID-19 impacts and responses.


09.35

NFU in the news

NFU President Minette Batters is quoted in an article in the Daily Mail about the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the dairy sector and highlighted the need for a hardship payment to support the hardest hit.


08.55

Farm assurance schemes update

The NFU’s food chain team has provided a brief summary on the current position of UK assurance schemes. Read more here.


Tuesday 5 May:

16.45

Poultry adviser Aimee Mahony had a call with the national control programme salmonella group, which includes industry representatives, Defra, APHA and the Food Standards Agency, to discuss issues and concerns around the COVID-19 outbreak.


16.20

Chief food chain adviser Christine McDowell and chief livestock adviser John Royle had a call with Defra to discuss the expected consultation on red meat fairness in the supply chain.


15.15

Chief food chain adviser Christine McDowell had a call with Co-op to discuss opportunities to align thinking for building resilience into the food sector.


14.30

NFU President Minette Batters is giving evidence to the Efra Committee on how the COVID-19 outbreak has affected farmers and growers and how farmers are helping secure our food supply during the pandemic.


14.00

Flood management and access policy adviser Dr Mhari Barnes has a call with the Natural England outdoor recreation and access stakeholder group to discuss COVID-19 issues.


12.40

Director General Terry Jones had a meeting with Defra Secretary of State George Eustice and other industry leaders yesterday where he raised the latest situation in the milk market, issues around carcase balancing and carcase pricing in the red meat sector, and concerns about the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on farm parks.


12.20

The dairy team has a call with the Defra dairy team to discuss the ongoing COVID-19 situation and its impact on the sector.


11.55

Agri-environmental scheme deadlines extended

In recognition of the disruption caused by COVID-19, the government has confirmed that the deadline for a number of 2020 agri-environmental schemes has been extended to midnight on 15 June 2020. Find out more here.


11.35

NFU President Minette Batters and head of food and farming Philip Hambling had a call with McCain to discuss issues in the potato sector and marketing British food in a new consumer environment.


10.45

Head of food and farming Philip Hambling had a call with the Food Industry Resilience Forum where the issue of contact tracing and its potential impact on the food industry was discussed.


09.35

NFU in the news

NFU Vice President Tom Bradshaw was featured in a piece on last night’s The One Show on BBC1 about the workers that have come forward to pick asparagus at a farm on the Wirral. He explained that more workers would be needed during the peak season but added there was some uncertainty about the availability of furloughed workers once the economy returns to normal.


09.00

Acting chief economics adviser Rohit Kaushish and economist Priya Punj had a meeting yesterday with UK Finance, the CBI and other trade associations to discuss commercial lending options during the COVID-19 outbreak.


Monday 4 May:

17.00

Chief environment adviser Diane Mitchell, environment adviser Ian Ludgate and environment policy adviser Philippa Arnold had a call with the Environment Agency to discuss COVID-19 related matters.


16.30

Business and rural affairs adviser Amy Cobbett had a meeting with the Rural Coalition to discuss an exit strategy for rural businesses and establish advice for the government on rural proofing the exit strategy.


16.10

NFU BPS webinar: your questions answered

During the live BPS seminar on April 30 a number of questions were posed by members. Those questions, and the responses to them, can be found here.


15.15

Head of policy services Andrea Graham and senior planning and rural affairs adviser Suzanne Clear have a meeting with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government about farmer planning issues raised by the COVID-19 outbreak.


14.50

The NFU's dairy team has a call with the Dairy Industry Response Group, made up of industry representatives from the supply chain, AHDB, and other farming unions, to discuss the current situation in the dairy sector and concerns to feed back to Defra.


14.00

Chief poultry adviser Gary Ford has a call with Defra to discuss the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak on the poultry meat sector.


12.35

NFU director of EU exit and international trade Nick von Westenholz had a call with the CBI and other industry leaders where business guidance on possible returning to work was discussed.


10.50

Week five of NFU Education’s #LockdownLearning project with EatFarmNow starts today. This week’s theme is livestock.


09.30

NFU in the news

NFU President Minette Batters was interviewed by the Daily Telegraph where she emphasised that we need to get more people eating steaks and that encouraging people to have a steak night would be a great way to help British farmers. The interview covered plans to write to the Prime Minister and emphasise how food sites could encourage consumers to buy British by highlighting UK produce. It also highlighted NFU calls for immediate grants for dairy farmers to stop them from going bust and prevent a milk shortage after lockdown and asking Defra to open garden centres as soon as possible.


Friday 1 May:

16.55

Update from the livestock board chairman

Livestock board chairman Richard Findlay has given an update on the situation facing the sector and the NFU’s work to support and promote British beef and lamb to the public. Read more here.


16.40

Chief food chain adviser Christine McDowell has a call with the Food Chain Emergency Liaison Group to discuss supply chain issues in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.


16.00

Poultry adviser Aimee Mahony had a call with Defra to discuss the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak on the laying hen sector.


12.00

Head of policy services Andrea Graham and chief environment adviser Diane Mitchell have a call with Defra to discuss issues around COVID-19 and access.


10.20

Business and rural affairs adviser Amy Cobbett has a call with Defra’s Rural Impacts Stakeholder Forum to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on rural communities and economies.


09.55

Head of food and farming Philip Hambling had a call with the Food Industry Resilience Forum where issues affecting the beef and poultry sectors, and testing for COVID-19, were mentioned.


09.30

NFU in the news

NFU horticulture and potatoes board chairman Ali Capper spoke to Sky News this morning and talked about the local people who had come forward to work at her farm already and efforts to recruit furloughed workers and university students. NFU Vice President Tom Bradshaw was featured in an in-depth report on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Nihal Arthanayake programme on calls from industry for people to come forward and pick this year’s crop. He responded to questions from listeners about the working conditions and emphasised that plenty of jobs would be coming up during the peak of the season in June, July, August and September.


Thursday 30 April:

16.30

NFU President Minette Batters chaired a UK Farming Roundtable meeting of organisations spanning the UK’s farming industry to discuss some of the key concerns facing agriculture in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.


14.30

Chief environment adviser Diane Mitchell and flood management and access policy adviser Dr Mhari Barnes have a call with Catherine Wright, a director of the Environment Agency, on flood management matters.


14.00

West Midlands regional director Robert Newbery and regional board chairman Malcolm Roberts are hosting a conference call with MPs from the region where national dairy board chairman Michael Oakes and national horticulture and potatoes board chairman Ali Capper will update them on issues and concerns of members in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.


13.50

NFU Deputy President Stuart Roberts, NFU Cymru President John Davies and head of food and farming Philip Hambling have a call with Tesco to discuss beef carcase balance.


12.20

More than 250 members signed up for the live webinar with the NFU’s BPS experts in which they took members through the BPS 2020 application process step by step ahead of the 15 May deadline.


11.40

NFU Vice President Tom Bradshaw is due to be interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live at 1.15pm today about the need for domestic workers to help pick fruit and vegetables.


11.05

Acting chief economics adviser Rohit Kaushish and economist Priya Punj have a meeting with NatWest/RBS to discuss COVID-19 response.


09.45

NFU in the news

NFU President Minette Batters’ call for Defra Secretary of State George Eustice to help dairy farmers severely impacted by the loss of the out-of-home sector as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak was reported on BBC Radio 2 news bulletins and Radio 5 Live’s Emma Barnett programme. Mrs Batters was also quoted in an article on the same issue in the Daily Mail. NFU Vice President Tom Bradshaw was quoted in a story in the Financial Times about the need to recruit seasonal workers to pick fruit and veg.


Wednesday 29 April:

16.30

Following a conference call with NFU President Minette Batters, 13 MPs from across the country representing ornamentals businesses have written a joint letter to Defra Secretary of State George Eustice supporting the NFU's asks for the sector. Members can read the letter here.


15.45

The combinable crops team had a call with the Cereal Liaison Group, which includes stakeholders from the whole supply chain, to discuss emerging issues for the sector in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.


14.30

The NFU has welcomed Aldi’s announcement that it will buy additional volumes of British beef and ornamental plants which demonstrates its support for British livestock farmers and ornamental growers. Read more here.


14.00

NFU President Minette Batters, director of policy Andrew Clark and chief science adviser Dr Helen Ferrier have a meeting with Defra Chief Scientific Adviser Prof Gideon Henderson, with discussions including COVID-19 and net zero.


12.05

NFU President Minette Batters, director of policy Andrew Clark, director of EU exit and international trade Nick von Westenholz, head of policy services Andrea Graham and chief environment adviser Diane Mitchell have a meeting with Greener UK representatives, including the RSPB, the Woodland Trust and the National Trust, to discuss a variety of issues, including the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.


11.10

M&S has written to NFU President Minette Batters reinforcing its support for its community of 10,000 British farmers and outlining its continued guarantee to pay a leading and fair price for milk through its Milk Pledge and to always purchase the volume it has committed to, regardless of customers demand. Read more here.


10.40

Head of food and farming Philip Hambling had a call with the Food Industry Resilience Forum where issues around the wider food supply chain, including risks to disruption in Europe and seasonal workforce, were discussed.


10.15

Director General Terry Jones joined other DGs from the food supply chain at a meeting with Defra Secretary of State George Eustice yesterday. Red meat, dairy, seasonal labour, the newly announced bounce back loans and bridging payments for outstanding BPS and stewardship payments were all discussed.


09.35

NFU in the news

Defra Secretary of State George Eustice responded to a piece from NFU President Minette Batters on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, in which she stressed the severe challenge the loss of the out-of-home sector has been for dairy farmers.


Tuesday 28 April:

16.30

The combinable crops team had a call with Defra to assess the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the malting barley market.


16.00

NFU President Minette Batters hosted a conference call with Labour MPs to update them on the latest issues and concerns for the sector as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.


14.50

NFU President Minette Batters hosted a conference call with Conservative MPs to update them on the latest issues and challenges affecting farming across all sectors in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.


14.30

Chief poultry adviser Gary Ford has a call with Defra to discuss issues around cold storage availability in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.


14.00

NFU Deputy President Stuart Roberts, director of policy Andrew Clark, acting chief economics adviser Rohit Kaushish, economist Priya Punj and legal adviser Kate Tandy are hosting the second NFU COVID-19 banking roundtable with key contacts from Barclays, RBS/NatWest, Lloyds Banking, HSBC, Yorkshire and Clydesdale banks and UK Finance. The meeting will look to discuss lending support for the sector, particularly in relation to the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, and assess deliverability of the Coronavirus Bounce Back Loan announced by the Chancellor yesterday.


13.10

NFU news: MPs urged to support British dairy sector. Read the press release here.


13.00

Livestock board chairman Richard Findlay and vice chairman Wyn Evans have a meeting with Waitrose to discuss ways to promote beef and lamb through the disruption caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. The meeting follows the recent open letter which urged retailers and processors to support British beef and sheep farmers by promoting cuts of meat such as steaks and roasting joints in store.


12.25

The poultry team, poultry board chairman Thomas Wornham and poultry board member Charles Bourns, who is chairman of the COPA-Cogeca  eggs and poultry meat advisory group, have a call with the other UK farming unions to discuss issues and concerns for the sector.


12.10

Flood management and access policy adviser Dr Mhari Barnes has a call with Natural England’s outdoor recreation and access stakeholder group to discuss COVID-19 issues.


11.30

NFU win: Following lobbying by the NFU, the RPA has today announced that it will be making bridging payments in May worth 75% of the claim for outstanding 2019 environmental stewardship (ES and CS) claims.


11.20

The dairy team has a call with Defra to discuss the COVID-19 situation and highlight concerns raised by the industry.


11.00

Hannah Malpass is representing the NFU poultry team on a call with the national control programme salmonella group, which includes industry representatives, Defra, APHA and the Food Standards Agency, to discuss issues relating to the COVID-19 outbreak.


10.40

NFU win: The announcement of the Bounce Back Loan scheme, which is due to be launched on May 4, addressed many of the asks and concerns the NFU has raised with government about the ability of many farm businesses to access the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.


10.15

Acting chief economics adviser Rohit Kaushish and economist Priya Punj had a meeting with UK Finance and other trade associations to discuss commercial lending options during the COVID-19 outbreak.


Monday 27 April:

17.00

Chief poultry adviser Gary Ford had a call with Defra to discuss the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the poultry meat sector.


16.00

The NFU's dairy team and NFU Cymru have a call with the FareShare food redistribution organisation to discuss ways to potentially work together to manage current milk surpluses.


14.30

The NFU's dairy team has a call with the Dairy Industry Response Group, made up of industry representatives from the supply chain, AHDB, and other farming unions, to discuss the current situation in the dairy sector and the progress of evidence gathering work for Defra.


14.00

NFU senior regulatory affairs adviser Dr Chris Hartfield and senior plant health adviser Dr Anthony Hopkins join a round table with Defra minister Victoria Prentis on UK pesticide regulation after Brexit, chaired by Defra board member Ben Goldsmith. Dr Hartfield gave the opening presentation on crop production issues.


13.30

The British Agriculture Bureau (BAB) team in Brussels continues its series of discussions with key EU farming union representatives. The latest is with Coldiretti of Italy to discuss the impacts of COVID-19 on the agricultural sectors and labour issues. The discussion inevitably touched upon Italian concerns regarding the conclusion of discussions between EU and UK negotiators and the uncertainty regarding the ending of the transition period.


10.00

Week 4 of NFU Education's #LockdownLearning project with EatFarmNow starts today. This week the theme is agritech.


09.00

NFU in the news

NFU Vice President Tom Bradshaw is quoted in the Guardian on seasonal labour issues. The Guardian also reports that the NFU is one of the co-signatories of a letter to the Justice Secretary calling for an urgent review of the government guidance on travelling for exercise. NFU dairy board chairman Michael Oakes and NFU Cymru milk board chairman Abi Reader featured on the BBC's Countryfile programme on Sunday, reiterating the NFU’s asks from government to support the dairy sector with a incentivised milk production scheme. Click here to watch from 25 minutes.


Friday 24 April:

17.30

Testing update: Briefing added for NFU members at the top of the main advice page here.


17.00

Head of policy services Andrea Graham and chief environment adviser Diane Mitchell have a call with Defra to discuss access-related issues in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.


16.00

A message from the dairy board chairman

Dairy board chairman Michael Oakes reflects on the past two weeks and COVID-19’s impact on the dairy sector. Read more here.


15.00

Chief environment adviser Diane Mitchell and environment policy adviser Philippa Arnold have a call with Defra about fly-tipping issues in the wake of the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.


14.40

The NFU BPS, environment and flooding advisers have had discussions with the RPA and Defra today on a range of issues, including Farm Recovery Fund, BPS and agri-environmental schemes and application issues. The NFU continues to raise member concerns.


14.00

Poultry adviser Aimee Mahony has a call with Defra to discuss the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak on the laying hen sector.


12.55

Director of policy Andrew Clark, head of policy services Andrea Graham and senior BPS adviser Richard Wordsworth have a call with Marian Spain, chief executive of Natural England, and Paul Caldwell, chief executive of the RPA, to discuss the implications of the COVID-19 outbreak on rights of way, BPS and agri-environment scheme payments, cashflow, applications and inspections.


12.30

Poultry adviser Aimee Mahony and farm safety and transport adviser Tom Price have a call with Defra to discuss the availability of PPE, particularly dust masks, in the poultry sector.


10.35

Business and rural affairs adviser Amy Cobbett has a call with Defra’s rural impacts stakeholder group to discuss the impacts of COVID-19 on rural communities and economies.


09.45

NFU in the news

NFU horticulture and potatoes board chairman Ali Capper was interviewed on Good Morning Britain this morning, reiterating that workers will be needed in the peak picking season months and that without workers, the crop will not be picked. NFU Vice President Tom Bradshaw was interviewed live on ITV Lunchtime News yesterday on the same issue. Mr Bradshaw was also quoted in a report in The Times about the Pick for Britain campaign.


09.35

The government has expanded its testing capacity to include other essential workers who have had to self-isolate due to having coronavirus-like symptoms. The NFU is seeking further clarification from government on how this will work for farm businesses. In the meantime, please visit the government’s updated advice page.


09.00

The NFU has backed the CBI’s call for changes to be made to the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. Increasing the loan guarantee to 100% and extending the repayment period would make the scheme a better fit for farm businesses who find the current scheme impractical and unaffordable.


Thursday 23 April:

15.00

NFU President Minette Batters is hosting a conference call with members of the House of Lords where the current situation in the dairy sector will be the main topic for discussion.


13.35

Acting chief economics adviser Rohit Kaushish and economist Priya Punj have their weekly call with NatWest/RBS to discuss COVID-19 impact financing.


12.10

NFU President Minette Batters, supported by horticulture and potatoes adviser Emily Roads and horticulture board member Martin Emmett, hosted a briefing for MPs on the the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the ornamentals sector.


12.00

NFU news: Shocking that some retailers fail to stock British beef during Great British Beef Week. Read the press release here.


11.50

Chief environment adviser Diane Mitchell, environment adviser Ian Ludgate and environment policy adviser Philippa Arnold have a meeting with the Environment Agency on COVID-19 related matters.


11.30

The BAB team has a call with colleagues in the German farmers’ organisation, DBV, to discuss the market and trade situation in the two countries in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. This is part of a series of meetings the BAB team is holding with key trade partners in Europe.


11.15

Acting chief economics adviser Rohit Kaushish and economist Priya Punj have a meeting with the Bank of England to discuss the impacts of COVID-19 and government support packages.


10.20

More than 2,000 emails have been sent to MPs, using the NFU online tool for members, making the case to government to take urgent action to support the dairy industry. Members can find out how they can get involved here.


09.50

Interview alert

NFU Vice President Tom Bradshaw is due to be interviewed live via video link on ITV Lunchtime News today, from 1.30pm onwards, on the need for workers to come forward and Pick for Britain.


09.30

BPS webinar

The NFU’s BPS experts will be hosting a live webinar on 30 April to walk members through the BPS 2020 online application process. From checking your business details are correct and mapping, to land use and entitlements, the webinar will take you through the application step by step ahead of the deadline on 15 May. Find out more, and how to register, here.


Wednesday 22 April:

17.00

NFU President Minette Batters represented the UK farming unions in the meeting of the COPA Praesidium involving the Presidents of all the farming unions in the EU. Responding to the opening remarks of AGRI Commissioner Wojciechowski, Mrs Batters referred to the critical importance of the food supply chain, the particular problems created by the closure of food service, and the essential need to take food security into account in designing future policy. The Commissioner outlined a package of measures to assist sectors adversely affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, including private storage aid for dairy, beef and sheepmeat.


16.05

Pick for Britain,a central online recruitment hub, is now live for fruit and veg businesses to advertise their job vacancies for this year’s harvest. Members can find out more here.


15.00

NFU win: Following NFU meetings with the chief executives of Natural England and the RPA, NE has announced it is adapting the way it gives advice to support farmers, land managers and rural businesses during these unprecedented times. Read more here.


14.05

Livestock board chairman Richard Findlay and vice chairman Wyn Evans have meetings with Morrisons and Sainsbury’s to discuss ways to promote beef and lamb through the disruption caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. The meetings follow the recent open letter which urged retailers and processors to support British beef and sheep farmers by promoting cuts of meat such as steaks and roasting joints in store.


12.55

Senior European policy adviser Verity Richards took part in a COPA call on animal health and welfare issues in light of the COVID-19 outbreak.


12.45

Environment policy adviser Philippa Arnold had a call with the Chartered Institute of Waste Management COVID-19 advisory group to discuss issues around the COVID-19 outbreak.


12.30

Business and rural affairs adviser Amy Cobbett has a meeting with Defra’s Rural Development Programme for England External Working Group to discuss current programmes, the Shared Prosperity Fund, and COVID-19’s impact on the rollout.


11.25

Senior regulatory affairs adviser Chris Hartfield, senior European policy adviser Katie Jarvis, and vice chair of the COPA Working Party on phytosanitary questions Guy Smith took part in a COPA meeting on phytosanitary issues to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the supply of plant protection products and other related issues.


11.05

NFU Deputy President Stuart Roberts and head of food and farming Phil Hambling have a call with Aldi to discuss COVID-19 and its impacts on the supply chain.


10.15

The combinable crops team has a call with the Cereal Liaison Group, which includes stakeholders from the whole supply chain, to discuss emerging issues for the sector in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.


09.35

NFU in the news

NFU Vice President Tom Bradshaw appeared on BBC1’s Daily Kitchen Live talking about the Pick for Britain campaign, why workers are urgently needed to come forward to pick fruit and veg this harvest, and how the public can get involved. The Press Association and the BBC reported on the joint letter from the NFU, National Rural Crime Network, Countryside Alliance and CLA to Justice Secretary Robert Buckland asking for clarification of advice for people visiting the countryside for exercise.


08.55

BPS reminders

Senior BPS adviser Richard Wordsworth has set out some of the key reminders for those who have yet to apply for the 2020 BPS in the current application window. Read more here.


Tuesday 21 April:

16.45

Chief food chain adviser Christine McDowell had a call with McDonald’s to discuss the current situation across all sectors in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. McDonald’s reiterated its commitment to British farms. Further calls will take place in the coming weeks.


16.25

Hannah Malpass represented the NFU poultry team on a call with the National Control Programme salmonella group, which includes industry representatives, Defra, APHA and the Food Standards Agency, to discuss issues relating to the COVID-19 outbreak.


15.50

NFU President Minette Batters hosted a second conference call with MPs in which she updated them on the challenges being experienced by farmers in all sectors, including ornamentals, red meat and dairy.


14.30

The dairy team had a call with the Defra dairy team to discuss the COVID-19 situation and raise concerns from the industry group. Cross-dairy sector issues, including those affecting sheep and goat producers, were also discussed.


13.55

Flood management and access policy adviser Dr Mhari Barnes had a call with the Natural England Outdoor Recreation and Access stakeholder group to discuss issues around COVID-19.


12.40

Director General Terry Jones had a call with Defra Secretary of State George Eustice and other industry leaders where he raised emerging problems in the red meat sector and the need for household waste recycling centres to reopen.


11.45

Economist Priya Punj, senior European policy adviser Katie Jarvis and Next Generation Forum chairman Simon Gadd are attending a European Council of Young Farmers (CEJA) online working group meeting to exchange views on COVID-19 crisis intervention.


11.00

The NFU, National Rural Crime Network, CLA and Countryside Alliance have written to the Secretary of State for Justice Robert Buckland asking for a review of the Crown Prosecution Service guidance for the police that states that it is reasonable to drive to the countryside for exercise “where far more time is spent walking than driving”.


10.15

Head of food and farming Phil Hambling had a call with the Food Industry Resilience Forum where issues such as carcase balance and ensuring sustainable returns to farmers during the disruption caused by the COVID-19 outbreak were discussed.


09.40

NFU in the news

NFU Deputy President Stuart Roberts was featured on BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours discussing how changing consumer habits are affecting livestock farmers and why retailers must be promoting a range of products to push demand. NFU dairy board chairman Michael Oakes was quoted in a Daily Express article about the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the dairy sector.


09.05

Interview alert

NFU Vice President Tom Bradshaw is due to be interviewed live on BBC1’s Daily Kitchen programme this morning from 10am, setting out the challenges for British farmers during the COVID-19 pandemic and why farmers really value the support of the British public.


Monday 20 April:

17.00

Chief poultry adviser Gary Ford had a call with Defra to discuss the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the poultry meat sector.


16.35

The dairy team had a call with the Dairy Industry Response Group call to update on work streams and discuss collaboration to support the industry.


16.15

Chief combinable crops adviser Harriette Roberts had a meeting with the Arable Chain Advisory Group, which included industry sector representatives and Defra, to discuss the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.


15.55

The NFU has put together an online tool for members to email their local MP to make the case to government to take urgent action to support the ornamentals sector. It includes an editable template letter so personal comments and experiences can be added in. Find out more here.


15.00

Acting chief economics adviser Rohit Kaushish and economist Priya Punj have a meeting with UK Finance to discuss improvements to the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and broader financing during the COVID-19 outbreak.


14.05

Senior planning and rural affairs adviser Suzanne Clear has a meeting with the Deputy Head of Land Use in Defra’s Natural Environment Directorate to discuss planning issues raised by the COVID-19 outbreak.


12.45

NFU news: Dairy industry calls for urgent government action. Read the press release here.


12.35

As part of the NFU's ongoing work with the Horticultural Trades Association calling for financial support for the ornamentals sector, members are being asked to complete a survey to show the financial impact on the sector. Find out more here.


12.20

Appeals for urgent government action to save the dairy industry have been backed by the entire supply chain in a joint letter to Defra Secretary of State George Eustice. The group, including the UK farming unions, RABDF, Dairy UK and the Provision Trade Federation, has reiterated its support for the proposals put forward by the NFU to protect dairy farm businesses from irreversible damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.


12.00

Acting chief economics adviser Rohit Kaushish has a call with the CBI, UK Finance and other trade associations to discuss commercial lending options during the COVID-19 outbreak.


11.30

Week 3 of NFU Education's #LockdownLearning project with EatFarmNow launches today. This week the theme is food.


10.45

Head of food and farming Philip Hambling had a call with the Food Industry Resilience Forum this morning where the issue of the roll out of testing for key workers was discussed.


10.10

NFU in the news

NFU dairy board chairman Michael Oakes was quoted in the Financial Times about the challenges facing the dairy sector. He welcomed the government’s decision to relax competition laws to support the sector but said much more was needed. NFU Vice President Tom Bradshaw was quoted in the Sunday Times about the opportunities to inspire domestic workers to pick for Britain during the current crisis. Livestock board chairman Richard Findlay was quoted in the Daily Star and Daily Mail responding to plans to reduce the meat content of meals served at schools, universities and in hospitals. He said if public sector caterers wanted to do their bit for the environment, they should be supporting British farms.


09.00

NFU news: Retail support needed to protect ornamentals sector during coronavirus crisis. Read the press release here.


Friday 17 April:

17.00

NFU President Minette Batters and horticulture and potatoes board chairman Ali Capper have written an open letter to retailers asking them to provide support for ornamental businesses during the COVID-19 outbreak by starting to rebuild stocks of British flowers and plants in stores.


16.40

The BAB team met their opposite numbers from the Netherlands and Spain this week to share information on a range of issues connected with COVID-19. A common theme across all three countries is the impact of the closure of food service on previously well-functioning supply chains, as well as concerns over the availability of seasonal labour.


16.05

NFU President Minette Batters and chief dairy adviser James Osman hosted a conference call with Conservative MPs to outline the challenges the dairy sector is facing in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, proposing solutions for those worst impacted dairy farmers.


14.00

Poultry adviser Aimee Mahony has a call with Defra to discuss issues and concerns for the laying hen sector in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.


12.35

NFU Vice President Tom Bradshaw has written to Farming Minister Victoria Prentis seeking the prompt payment of outstanding agri-environment payments from last year and also a payment guarantee for the forthcoming 2020 payments due later this year. With the current severe pressures on farming businesses up and down the country, the NFU is seeking practical solutions now to help farming businesses cash flows.


11.00

Livestock board chairman Richard Findlay and vice chairman Wyn Evans have a meeting with Co-op to discuss ways to promote beef and lamb through the disruption caused by COVID-19. The meeting follows the open letter last week urging retailers and processors to support British beef and sheep farmers by promoting cuts of meat such as steaks and roasting joints in store.


10.30

Chief combinable crops adviser Harriette Roberts had a call with the National Association of British and Irish Flour Millers to discuss issues around the COVID-19 outbreak.


09.55

Director of EU Exit and International Trade Nick von Westenholz had a call with the CBI and business leaders to discuss key issues affecting the wider business community in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, including part-time furloughing of employees.


09.45

NFU in the news

NFU Vice President Tom Bradshaw appeared on Sky News and BBC Radio 5 Live’s Drivetime show last night highlighting the opportunity to empower domestic workers to pick Britain’s fruit and veg.


Thursday 16 April:

16.20

NFU President Minette Batters chaired a UK Farming Roundtable meeting of organisations spanning the UK’s farming industry to discuss some of the key concerns facing agriculture in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Defra Secretary of State George Eustice and Farming Minister Victoria Prentis attended the meeting to hear the concerns and to explain Government’s action. Much of the discussion focused on the situation of dairy farmers formerly supplying food service supply chains, but challenge was also raised over transparency of beef and lamb markets. Mr Eustice agreed to escalate concerns with Government departments.


16.00

Chief combinable crops adviser Harriette Roberts had a call with the British Hay and Straw Merchants Association this week about straw supplies for the end of this season and harvest.


15.30

Interview alert

NFU Vice President Tom Bradshaw is due to feature on the BBC News at 6pm and 10pm this evening highlighting the NFU’s work to encourage a nationwide recruitment campaign to get underway to recruit workers in time for peak picking season. He is also due to be interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live after 5.30pm on the same subject.


14.30

Livestock board chairman Richard Findlay and vice chairman Wyn Evans have a meeting with Asda to discuss ways to promote beef and lamb through the disruption caused by COVID-19. The meeting follows the open letter last week urging retailers and processors to support British beef and sheep farmers by promoting cuts of meat such as steaks and roasting joints in store.


12.05

Acting chief economics adviser Rohit Kaushish and economist Priya Punj are meeting with NatWest/RBS to discuss the roll out of COVID-19 response measures.


11.30

The combinable crops team has a call with Defra to discuss issues and challenges facing the sector as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.


11.15

NFU in the news

NFU Vice President Tom Bradshaw was on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning where he highlighted the NFU’s work in encouraging British workers to pick for Britain to ensure crops are picked during peak season. The NFU’s work to source British workers, and its regular meetings with Defra to discuss options, was also mentioned in stories in the Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and Daily Express.


10.20

The NFU has put together an online tool for members to email their local MP to make the case to government to take urgent action to support the dairy industry. It includes an editable template letter so personal comments can be added in. Find out more here.


10.00

Livestock board chairman Richard Findlay and vice chairman Wyn Evans have a meeting with Marks & Spencer to discuss ways to promote beef and lamb through the disruption caused by COVID-19. The meeting follows the open letter last week urging retailers and processors to support British beef and sheep farmers by promoting cuts of meat such as steaks and roasting joints in store.


09.30

The BAB team has participated in discussions with COPA and farming unions from other EU Member States on the impacts of COVID-19 on European agriculture. BAB Director Robin Manning explained the situation in the UK and the various requests made of UK government.


09.00

The NFU has created a new car sticker - Back British farming | Back British food - to enable the public to show their support for British food and farming. Find out how to get hold of the stickers here.


Wednesday 15 April:

16.00

A message from the poultry board chairman

Poultry board chairman Thomas Wornham outlines the challenges of the last few weeks and the current issues facing the sector. Read more here.


14.20

The NFU dairy team had a call with the Dairy COVID-19 Response Group, which includes the other UK farming unions, industry and supply chain representatives, to discuss key concerns for the sector and working together to address the ongoing dairy market issues.


13.05

NFU President Minette Batters co-chaired a dairy industry roundtable meeting involving processors, traders, exporters, other industry representatives and Defra officials to address the urgent crisis in the dairy sector.


11.55

NFU Deputy President Stuart Roberts and business and rural affairs adviser Amy Cobbett had a meeting with Mobile UK, which represents the four major mobile networks, to discuss the Shared Rural Network, and COVID-19’s impact on rural connectivity.


11.40

The combinable crops team has a call with the Cereal Liaison Group, which includes stakeholders from the whole supply chain, to discuss emerging issues for the sector in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.


11.30

The NFU horticulture, economics and legal teams had a call with Defra and the Horticultural Trades Association to discuss the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and the implications of state aid rules for the ornamental sector.


10.30

Environment adviser Philippa Arnold has a call with the Environment Agency to discuss issues and concerns around fly-tipping in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.


09.45

NFU news: Supply chain urged to play its part supporting British livestock farmers. Read the press release here.


09.35

NFU in the news

NFU member Olly Harrison appeared on BBC Breakfast on Monday talking about the increase in fly tipping following the closure of household waste recycling centres because of the COVID-19 outbreak.


09.10

Chief poultry adviser Gary Ford had a call with Defra to discuss poultry meat issues, and poultry adviser Aimee Mahony had a call with Defra to discuss shortages of equipment such as dust masks and disposable gloves in the sector, in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.


Tuesday 14 April:

17.00

NFU win: More than 200 people emailed their local councils using the NFU's sky lanterns campaign tool in the 24 hours after news emerged of an initiative to release sky lanterns in support of the NHS.


16.30

NFU President Minette Batters hosted a conference call with a group of MPs to outline the challenges the farming industry is facing as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. A number of different topics were discussed and MPs were able to ask questions about specific issues affecting farmers in their constituencies. More sector-specific calls are planned for the coming weeks.


15.00

Senior economist Rohit Kaushish and economist Priya Punj have a meeting with UK Finance and other trade associations to discuss commercial lending options during the COVID-19 pandemic.


14.45

The British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) has made temporary changes to the passport amendments process in light of the COVID-19 outbreak to help avoid (as much as possible) farmers having to make trips to post documents to BCMS when government advice is not to travel. Find out more here.


14.15

Flood management and access policy adviser Dr Mhari Barnes has a call with Defra and Natural England to discuss issues around access and the COVID-19 outbreak.


11.40

NFU President Minette Batters had a call with Farming Minister Victoria Prentis to update her on the latest issues in the sector as part of our frequent engagement with Defra at the moment.


10.40

Following a consultation by Ofwat, which the NFU contributed to, formal measures to enhance protections for business customers during the COVID-19 pandemic have been implemented, covering the period from April 8 to May 31. These measures include that premises are not to be disconnected for non-payment of charges during the outbreak; that retailers do not seek to recover any default interest for non-payment of invoices during this period; and that retailers do not seek to enforce the non-payment of invoices until Ofwat permits this.


10.05

The NFU has held further discussions with the RPA to ensure there is a workable process in place to ensure members can submit both BPS and agri-environment scheme claims, and any accompanying documentation necessary, in good time for the May 15 deadline in light of the COVID-19 lockdown measures.


09.45

Well known botanist and author James Wong launches week 2 of NFU Education’s #LockdownLearning project with EatFarmNow. The theme this week is horticulture.


09.30

NFU in the news

NFU Vice President Tom Bradshaw appeared on a BBC News Special on Saturday highlighting the importance of seasonal workers in keeping shelves stocked. The need for seasonal workers was also picked up by the Daily Express and Daily Telegraph. The NFU’s call for government support for the dairy sector was mentioned on Sky News and in the Times, Guardian and Daily Mail.


Thursday 9 April:

16.50

NFU President Minette Batters chaired a UK Farming Roundtable meeting of 18 organisations, spanning the UK’s farming industry, to discuss some of the key concerns facing agriculture in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. On behalf of the group, Mrs Batters has sent a letter to Defra Secretary of State George Eustice outlining key issues and asks of government ahead of his scheduled attendance at next week’s roundtable meeting.


16.25

Interview alert

An interview with NFU President Minette Batters is due to be broadcast on Sky News this afternoon about the NFU's call on Defra Secretary of State George Eustice to take immediate steps to ensure the sustainability of the dairy sector.


16.05

Chief food chain adviser Christine McDowell and head of food and farming Philip Hambling had a call with the Defra food chain emergency liaison group to discuss issues and concerns around the COVID-19 outbreak.


15.55

NFU President Minette Batters and dairy board chairman Michael Oakes had an emergency meeting with Defra Secretary of State George Eustice to discuss the crisis facing the dairy sector in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.


15.15

Furlough leave template letter

The NFU has produced a template letter for members to download and use if they need to furlough employees. Members can find out more and access the letter here.


15.00

Head of food and farming Philip Hambling and chief livestock adviser John Royle have a call with the chairman of the Food Standards Agency and the wider UK meat industry.


13.55

Chief food chain adviser Christine McDowell is in daily contact with retailers in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak to discuss supply chain issues like sourcing, promotional strategies and carcase balancing to help drive better returns for livestock farmers.


12.55

The Ornamental Horticulture Roundtable Group, on which the NFU sits, has written to Defra explaining the crisis facing the ornamentals sector in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak and seeking urgent action to support the sector.


12.40

Agrifood policy delivery manager Jack Watts and information and statistics coordinator Rajinder Pooni had a call with Defra to discuss proposals surrounding the June Census in light of the COVID-19 outbreak.


12.30

Chief food chain adviser Christine McDowell, chief horticulture adviser Lee Abbey and skills and employment adviser Rachel Chambers had a call with representatives from the hospitality sector to discuss how both industries can share labour forces during the COVID-19 outbreak.


12.15

A message from the dairy board chairman

Dairy board chairman Michael Oakes outlines how the full impact of the COVID-19 outbreak has started to bite within the dairy sector. Read more here.


11.30

The NFU is seeking clarity from government on grants and business rates holidays in relation to a range of members’ non-agricultural business diversifications and is asking members to provide evidence to assist in this work. Find out more here.


10.45

Chief livestock adviser John Royle had a call with the Livestock Chain Advisory Group to discuss issues related to the COVID-19 outbreak.


10.15

Business impact reporting

More than 70 submissions have been received so far through the online service launched by the NFU to capture farm business issues related to the COVID-19 outbreak, with impacts on the potato market, diversified businesses, the cattle market and dairy farms among the most reported. The collated information is used to inform government of the key issues affecting farmers and growers. The form can be found here.


09.45

NFU in the news

The NFU’s call for an emergency meeting with Defra Secretary of State George Eustice to discuss the crisis facing the dairy sector was covered on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme and across BBC radio news bulletins throughout the morning. NFU Vice President Tom Bradshaw was quoted in stories by a number of national newspapers, including the Financial Times and the Daily Mail, about the need for people to pick fruit and veg in the coming months.


08.55

Open letter to retailers

NFU and NFU Cymru have written an open letter urging retailers and processors to support British beef and sheep farmers by promoting cuts of meat such as steaks and roasting joints in stores, which are now in high supply due to the complete loss of the food service market. The NFU will be contacting all retailers separately to understand individual plans to deal with the disruption in supply. Read the letter here.


Wednesday 8 April:

20.15

NFU President Minette Batters has called on Defra Secretary of State, George Eustice, to a crisis meeting tomorrow and to take immediate steps to ensure the sustainability of the dairy sector. Read more here.


17.00

Head of policy services Andrea Graham and chief environment adviser Diane Mitchell are speaking to the Defra access lead to follow up on the impact of the recent government guidance on access to the countryside during the COVID-19 outbreak.


16.15

Chief livestock adviser John Royle had a call with the Defra red meat and animal welfare teams to update them on the current market conditions and the impact of COVID-19 on the livestock sector.


16.00

Why retailers should back British livestock farmers this spring

Chief food chain adviser Christine McDowell has written a blog explaining why carcase balancing is key to unlocking fairer returns for producers.


14.30

Chief environment adviser Diane Mitchell and environment adviser Ian Ludgate are speaking to the Environment Agency on matters related to COVID-19.


13.30

Chief environment adviser Diane Mitchell and environment policy adviser Philippa Arnold have a call with Defra to discuss issues and concerns around an increase in fly-tipping following the closure of household waste recycling centres in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.


12.32

Horticulture and potatoes adviser Emily Roads had a call with the Ornamental Horticulture Roundtable Group to discuss the impacts of COVID-19 and cross-body action to support the sector.


12.00

NFU members are encouraged to visit the RPA’s dedicated COVID-19 page to keep up to date with the latest information from the RPA. Find out more here.


10.50

Contingency planning checklist

The NFU, working with the farming charities and SAC in Scotland, has produced a checklist to help farmers look at their businesses and make a robust plan if they, their families or key members of staff become unwell during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more here.


10.30

The Campaign for Science and Engineering, which the NFU is a member of, has been talking to government about issues and concerns regarding the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on agricultural research. The NFU is also talking to senior members of the research community about the impact on agricultural science projects and programmes.


09.45

The NFU food chain team has compiled some information about marketing food products directly to the public, which highlights key regulations that may need to be complied with and signposts readers to further information. Read more here.


09.25

NFU in the news

NFU dairy board chairman Michael Oakes was quoted in the Daily Mail, Daily Express and Sky News on how the NFU is working with government and the supply chain to find solutions to issues the sector is facing following the closure of restaurants and cafes.


09.05

Head of food and farming Philip Hambling had a call with the Food Industry Resilience Forum this morning and raised the pressing issue of carcase imbalance in the beef sector.


Tuesday 7 April:

16.30

Chief livestock adviser John Royle has a call with the Defra livestock ID team to discuss sheep movements in England during the COVID-19 lockdown and how this might compare to last year.


16.00

Environment policy adviser Philippa Arnold has a call with the Chartered Institute of Waste Management’s COVID-19 advisory group, where she will be raising the issue of increasing fly-tipping due to the closure of tips, waste collections reducing, and people spending more time at home.


14.55

The National Rural Crime Network, which includes the NFU, has written to Defra Secretary of State George Eustice raising concerns in a number of areas in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, including fly-tipping as a result of the closure of waste and recycling centres. Read the letter here.


14.20

Flood management and access policy adviser Dr Mhari Barnes has a call with Natural England and Defra to discuss access to green spaces in light of the COVID-19 outbreak.


14.00

Poultry adviser Aimee Mahony has a call with the National Control Programme salmonella group, which includes industry representatives, Defra, APHA and the Food Standards Agency, to discuss issues relating to testing and contingency planning in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.


12.56

The NFU’s EU Exit and International Trade team had a call with representatives from the US government’s Foreign Agricultural Service to discuss trade and COVID-19 issues.


12.47

The NFU continues to raise with RPA and Defra the challenges members are facing through COVID-19 regarding compliance with Countryside Productivity Small Grant Scheme and Growth Programme claims. RPA recognises these challenges include disruption to various supplies including building materials. The RPA asks that agreement holders try to progress their projects and to contact RPA as soon as possible if they are going to be unable to meet the timescales and milestones in their grant funding agreement (including claim submission dates and profiles). Where the RPA is able to accommodate variation requests they will issue an updated grant funding agreement. Farmers should contact RPA preferably by email at cmRwZWNsYWltc3VibWlzc2lvbkBycGEuZ292LnVr


11.48

NFU Deputy President Stuart Roberts and Head of Food and Farming Philip Hambling had a call with Red Tractor to discuss remote assessments and other supply chain issues in light of the COVID-19 outbreak.


11.05

Farming Recovery Fund update

Defra has announced that the Farming Recovery Fund will be opened to farmers located in parts of Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, and East and North Yorkshire, as well as being further extended in Nottinghamshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire. The NFU is working hard to make sure that all those who were severely affected will be included and is continuing to make the case for other areas to be included, such as Somerset, Lancashire and Cumbria. More information will be released in due course.


10.21

Senior regulatory affairs adviser Chris Hartfield and senior plant health adviser Anthony Hopkins are meeting with Defra and HSE today to discuss the impact of COVID-19, including the authorisation, availability and use of crop protection products.


10.03

Director of EU Exit and International Trade Nick von Westenholz had a call with the CBI and business leaders to discuss key issues affecting the wider business community in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.


10.00

NFU news: Farmers launch #LockdownLearning initiative for home education. Read the press release here.


09.50

NFU in the news

Dairy board chairman Michael Oakes was interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live's Wake Up To Money and set out the challenges facing dairy farmers as a result of the impact of COVID-19 on the food service sector and the closure of restaurants and cafes.


Monday 6 April:

18.07

Director General Terry Jones joined other members of the F4+3 group on a call with Defra Secretary of State George Eustice. Retailers backing out from their commitments on sourcing, non-collection of milk, and recent positive changes on public access were all discussed.


16.48

NFU President Minette Batters had a call with Dave Potts, the chief executive of Morrisons, to discuss issues around the COVID-19 outbreak and British sourcing.


15.55

The NFU has challenged an apparent change in sourcing policy by some UK retailers in recent weeks in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, with the retailers involved insisting that they have not moved away from their standard sourcing policies nor their commitment to British producers. Read more here.


14.45

The NFU continues to speak to the RPA about a range of issues around BPS, and Countryside Stewardship and Environmental Stewardship, and challenges members are facing due to the COVID-19 outbreak. These issues include flexibility around application deadlines due to challenges caused by lockdown conditions, RPA bound documents, inspections, and other applications due to be made.


14.30

The NFU dairy team has a call with the Dairy Industry Response Group, made up of industry representatives from the supply chain, AHDB, and other farming unions, to discuss key concerns for the sector, including assessing market support measures and aid in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.


14.05

Chief poultry adviser Gary Ford has a conference call with Defra to discuss the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the poultry meat sector, including issues around the collapse of the wholesale poultry meat sector, the supply of shavings, and staffing concerns.


12.41

Chief food chain adviser Christine McDowell is writing to all the major retailers to find out what they are doing regarding promotion of British beef and lamb.


12.27

Biosecurity and cleansing and disinfecting advice

The NFU is working with the BVA and BCVA to provide some advice on what can be done on farm to protect farmers, their families and staff and any essential visitors, including vets, from COVID-19. Read more here.


11.50

North East regional environment and land use adviser James Copeland attended a key stakeholder meeting organised by Defra and Natural England to discuss heather/grass burning in the uplands in the context of COVID-19.


11.21

Update on furloughed workers

The Government has released updated guidance on furloughed workers which confirms that furloughed workers from other sectors will generally be able to take up new roles in the agriculture sector. Read the Government guidance here.


10.07

New public rights of way signs for members

The NFU has produced two new signs for members to print off at home and use on public rights of way that pass through farmyards, gardens or stables. Find out more and download the signs here.


09.55

Director General Terry Jones raised the issue of non-collection of milk at the Food Industry Resilience Forum this morning. This follows discussions with Defra over the weekend which will continue today and for the rest of this week.


09.46

NFU in the news

Horticulture and potatoes board chairman Ali Capper was interviewed on the BBC’s Newsnight programme about the need for British people to harvest seasonal fruit and veg. NFU Vice President Tom Bradshaw was quoted in the Mail on Sunday on the same issue.


Friday 3 April:

18.06

New guidance on public rights of way

NFU win: Defra has issued new guidance on public rights of way after the NFU and other rural organisations raised concerns about the amount of people taking to the countryside amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Read more here.


16.50

New guidance documents for members

The NFU animal heath and welfare team has produced two new documents for members to help with on-farm social distancing and cleaning protocols. Members can find out more here.


16.30

Changes to SME loan scheme

NFU win: Work by NFU and wider industry sees Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme amended. Read more here.


16.10

NFU President Minette Batters chaired a UK Farming Roundtable meeting of more than 20 organisations spanning the UK’s farming industry to discuss some of the key issues and concerns facing agriculture in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.


15.52

New RPA COVID-19 webpage

The RPA has launched a new webpage relating to its work in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak which they intend to keep updated on a regularly basis. Find out more here.


14.00

Poultry adviser Aimee Mahony has a call with Defra to outline the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the laying hen sector, including key issues such as egg packaging, labour availability and salmonella testing.


12.45

The combinable crops team has a call with APHA and other stakeholders to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the seed industry.


12.22

The NFU dairy team has been meeting with the other UK farming unions to discuss and establish aligned positions on supporting the dairy sector.


11.31

With the better weather, NFU Director General Terry Jones has written to senior advisers across Government in advance of the Easter break asking that Ministers put out clear messages on staying at home at the No.10 daily press conference on COVID-19.


11.00

NFU has been stressing the challenges in the dairy market and pressing Government to produce guidance on social distancing to help growers and the wider food sector. This guidance is due to be published today.


09.55

Business impact information

Following the launch of the online service aimed at capturing farm business issues related to COVID-19, the NFU is now working to provide information about cross-agriculture business impacts to feed into the CBI and government. Find out more about the online service here.


09.40

Head of Policy Services Andrea Graham and chief environment adviser Diane Mitchell had a call with the Defra lead on access and rights of way to discuss issues related to COVID-19.


Thursday 2 April:

17.00

The combinable crops team had a call with the Defra arable team to discuss a variety of issues in light of the COVID-19 outbreak, including haulage, malting barley and oilseed rape, CPD and qualifications.


16.46

A message from the President

NFU President Minette Batters outlines how the NFU is working for its members during these unprecedented times in her latest vlog. Members can watch it here.


16.00

Chief livestock adviser John Royle had a call with the Defra red meat and animal welfare teams to update them on current market conditions and the impact of COVID-19 on the livestock sector.


15.06

Sheep shearing register

Industry organisations, including the NFU, have come together to deliver a matchmaking service for UK sheep shearers and contractors, as it is unlikely that overseas shearers will be able to travel to the UK due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Find out more here.


14.31

NFU President Minette Batters had a call with Shadow Defra Secretary of State Luke Pollard to discuss food supply issues in light of the COVID-19 outbreak.


14.05

Grant requirements

NFU is continuing to raise with the RPA and Defra the challenges faced by members who are trying to complete projects that are covered under schemes such as the Countryside Productivity Small Grant Scheme and Growth Programme, where materials or labour supply is disrupted. RPA recognise this challenge, which includes disruption to various supplies including building materials. While they ask that agreement holders try to progress projects, they should contact the RPA as soon as possible if they are going to be unable to meet the timescales and milestones in their Grant Funding Agreement (including claim submission dates and profiles).


12.51

Farm safety and transport adviser Tom Price is attending a meeting of the Freight Transport Association Midlands Freight Council to discuss issues facing the logistics industry during the COVID-19 outbreak.


12.12

NFU obtains important information about farm visits and inspections

The RPA has paused farm visits (including inspections) for three weeks and is considering its approach to future visits in line with developing national public health guidance. Read more here.


11.20

The NFU animal health and welfare team is working with the BVA and BCVA to produce guidance on social distancing and cleansing and disinfecting on farms in the light of concerns around the COVID-19 outbreak. The guidance will be promoted when available.


09.30

NFU President Minette Batters and Director General Terry Jones have a call this morning with Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove to discuss issues and concerns in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.


09.20

NFU in the news

NFU member Matt Spanton was interviewed on Channel 4 News about the challenges of recruiting a domestic workforce to pick and pack his asparagus and how workers were essential in order to keep shelves stocked. NFU Vice President Tom Bradshaw was quoted by BBC News about the need for labour to pick fruit and veg.


Wednesday 1 April:

15.51

NFU Deputy President Stuart Roberts and farm safety and transport adviser Tom Price had a call with the farming charities network to discuss issues and concerns around farmer wellbeing during the COVID-19 outbreak.


15.00

BAB Director Robin Manning and his team are having a series of on-line meetings with farming union leaders to discuss emerging COVID-19 issues, with particular focus on trade and labour. Meetings have been held so far with representatives from Denmark, Spain, the Netherlands and Germany. With normal face-to-face contacts not currently possible, these meetings provide a good opportunity to exchange information and experience of the measures being taken in our countries and the issues facing the agrifood supply chain.


14.07

Farm safety and transport adviser Tom Price is speaking to Kirsty Storer-Cottrell, Principal HSE Inspector, to discuss farm safety issues in light of the COVID-19 outbreak.


12.52

Agricultural retail stores

NFU win: Following lobbying by the NFU and the Animal Health Distributors Association, the government has confirmed that agricultural retail stores are now exempt from closure for the delivery of products and services that are important for animal health and welfare, but not for general trade. Read more here.


12.20

GLAA announces temporary licensing scheme

NFU win: Following extensive engagement between the NFU and industry, labour providers and government, the GLAA has announced it has introduced a temporary licensing scheme to support the food production sector in accessing the labour it needs during this difficult time. Find out more here.


11.52

Furloughed workers update

Government this morning confirmed that furloughed workers are eligible to collect wages with a second job. Further details on this will be shared in due course.


11.17

Chief environment adviser Diane Mitchell and flood management and access policy adviser Dr Mhari Barnes are speaking to Environment Agency flood director Catherine Wright to discuss flood management matters and the impact of COVID-19.


09.55

NFU in the news

NFU Vice President Tom Bradshaw appeared on ITV News as part of a package looking at growers’ concerns over labour shortages ahead of the picking season, NFU Director of EU exit and international trade Nick von Westenholz was interviewed live on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Emma Barnett programme and discussed concerns over labour shortages and food supplies. This interview was also quoted in the Daily Express, while Head of Food and Farming Philip Hambling was quoted in an article in the Daily Telegraph about the impacts of COVID-19 on the supply chain.


Tuesday 31 March:

17.00

NFU President Minette Batters and Vice President Tom Bradshaw had a call with Defra Secretary of State George Eustice to discuss measures to mobilise the domestic workforce for the forthcoming growing season.


16.35

Chief livestock adviser John Royle had a call with the Defra red meat and animal welfare teams to update them on the current market conditions and the impact of COVID-19 on the livestock sector.


16.14

A message from the potato forum chairman

NFU potato forum chairman Alex Godfrey outlines how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting the sector and the work the NFU is doing to keep supply chains moving. You can read his message here.


15.58

Interview alert

NFU Vice President Tom Bradshaw is due to feature on ITV News this evening as part of a package looking at growers’ concerns over labour shortages ahead of the picking season.


15.03

Flood management and access policy adviser Dr Mhari Barnes took part in a Natural England Outdoor Recreation and Access Stakeholder conference call to discuss COVID-19 issues.


14.44

Poultry adviser Aimee Mahony had a call with Defra, the Food Standards Agency and other industry stakeholders to look at the infrastructure around salmonella testing during the COVID-19 outbreak.


13.58

NFU water specialist Paul Hammett is working with the water watchdog, the Consumer Council for Water, to monitor members’ ability to pay water bills. The water regulator Ofwat has been asked to ensure that there is some level of protection for non-household customers of water and waste water services in the same way that vulnerable domestic customers (in terms of their ability to pay bills) are protected against termination of supply.


12.25

NFU provides new service to report COVID-19 impact on farming

The NFU has launched an online service aimed at capturing farm business issues related to COVID-19. Find out more here.


11.20

Head of Policy Services Andrea Graham and chief environment adviser Diane Mitchell had a call with Defra about the knock-on impacts of COVID-19 on the current Defra consultation on a future Environmental Land Management Scheme.


10.50

The NFU dairy team had its weekly conference call with the Defra dairy team to update them on the current issues in the marketplace, highlight areas where farmers are already suffering from severe market disturbances, and discuss options to assist on the ground.


10.15

Working to support the ornamentals sector

NFU horticulture and potatoes adviser Emily Roads has written a piece explaining how the NFU is working with industry to support the ornamentals sector through the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak. Read more here.


09.28

Director of Policy Andrew Clark, Head of Policy Services Andrea Graham and senior BPS adviser Richard Wordsworth had a call with Marian Spain (Natural England Chief Executive) and Paul Caldwell (RPA Chief Executive Officer) to discuss operational issues around both BPS and agri-environment schemes in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.


09.16

Interview alert

NFU director of EU exit and international trade Nick von Westenholz is due to be interviewed by BBC Radio 5 Live’s Emma Barnett programme at 10am to discuss how COVID-19 is impacting on farming.


09.06

Essential journey certificate

The NFU has produced an essential journey certificate for members and their employees to carry with them when travelling to/from work or between different sites. You can find out more here.


08.48

NFU in the news

NFU President Minette Batters was interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live this morning about the impact of COVID-19 on the farming industry, including issues with a shortage of seasonal workers. NFU Vice President Tom Bradshaw was on BBC Radio 4’s Farming Today talking about potential solutions for Britain’s fruit and vegetable growers to recruit seasonal workers this year.


Monday 30 March:

16.05

Interview alert

NFU Vice President Tom Bradshaw has been interviewed for tomorrow morning's Farming Today on BBC Radio 4 on potential solutions for Britain’s fruit and vegetable growers to recruit seasonal workers this year.


15.54

Skills and employment adviser Rachel Chambers had a call with representatives from the food chain to discuss responses to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.


15.10

MP conference call

Lancashire county adviser Liz Berry arranged a conference call for 12 members in Katherine Fletcher MP’s constituency of South Ribble to discuss some of the biggest challenges their businesses are facing due to COVID-19. The key points raised were around employment issues, such as seasonal pickers and furloughed workers, and Ms Fletcher said she would take these messages back to the regular conversations her and her Conservative colleagues are having with government.


14.17

The NFU dairy team hosted a meeting of the Dairy Industry Stakeholder Response Group, a group made up of all the major industry representatives, to discuss how to align key asks of government as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.


14.01

Skills and employment adviser Rachel Chambers and horticulture and potatoes adviser Emily Roads had a conference call with Defra to discuss labour issues in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.


14.00

Chief poultry adviser Gary Ford took part in a conference call with Defra to raise the concerns of poultry meat members and how they are being impacted by COVID-19.


13.30

Food chain adviser Helen Hunt took part in a conference call on organic feed and the impacts of COVID-19 on the organic feed sector.


12.49

The NFU dairy team is hosting a discussion with key labour providers and experts within the dairy sector today to discuss labour availability in light of the COVID-19 outbreak, particularly concerns around migrant labour.


12.16

Business impact reporting for farmers and growers

The NFU is providing an information gathering service on behalf of the agricultural and horticultural industries across the UK to assist the government in building a dynamic and up-to-date picture of the impact that the COVID-19 outbreak is having on farmers and growers. More details can be found here.


11.32

Head of Food and Farming Philip Hambling took part in a call with the Food Industry Resilience Forum where a variety of sector-wide issues were discussed, including ensuring staff guidance is in place for the smooth running of food processing businesses and clarity on guidance for police advice to avoid disruption for food businesses and agriculture.


Friday 27 March:

18.08

NFU President Minette Batters chaired a UK Farming Roundtable meeting of 18 organisations spanning the UK’s farming industry with Defra Secretary of State George Eustice and Agriculture Minister Victoria Prentis to discuss some of the key issues and concerns facing agriculture in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.


17.05

Interview alert

NFU President Minette Batters is scheduled to be interviewed live via Skype on Sky News at 7.45pm tonight with Sophy Ridge. She will be discussing how COVID-19 has impacted the farming sector and the concern about worker shortages this summer.


16.00

Chief livestock adviser John Royle had a call with the Livestock Chain Advisory Group, which includes representatives from across all livestock sectors, processing and rendering sectors, import/export agents, levy bodies, devolved governments and Defra, to discuss the impact of COVID-19.


15.27

NFU Deputy President Stuart Roberts, Director of Policy Andrew Clark, acting chief economics adviser Rohit Kaushish and economist Priya Punj are hosting an NFU COVID-19 banking roundtable discussion today with key contacts from Barclays, RBS/NatWest, Lloyds Banking, HSBC, Yorkshire and Clydesdale banks.


14.48

Flood management and access policy adviser Dr Mhari Barnes and BPS senior adviser Richard Wordsworth continue to raise issues from affected members regarding the Farming Recovery Fund with the RPA and are working on the detail for the third phase, which was announced on March 20.


14.15

Poultry adviser Aimee Mahony had a call with Defra to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the egg sector.


14.00

Flood management and access policy adviser Dr Mhari Barnes is working with Defra on new guidance for public rights of way in light of the COVID-19 outbreak. This guidance will be published as soon as it is available.


12.18

Director of EU Exit and International Trade Nick von Westenholz had a call with the CBI and business leaders to discuss key issues affecting the wider business community.


11.37

Director of Policy Andrew Clark has spoken with Defra about their Future Farming programme, which includes the current ELMS consultation which is due to close on May 5. In the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and given the importance of getting the transition from CAP correct, NFU has made it clear there must be a postponement of previous deadlines.


11.07

BAB Director Robin Manning had a call with European farming leaders to discuss issues affecting the sector in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic following the informal meeting of Agriculture Ministers on March 25. The UK farming unions, through BAB, remain a full member of COPA for the duration of the transition period.


10.27

The NFU has a conference call today with Defra and the RPA to discuss issues around BPS, and Countryside Stewardship and Environmental Stewardship, including applications, deadlines, inspections and service provision. BPS and agri-environment advisers are continuing to raise points with the RPA on all these issues.


09.03

Food chain adviser Helen Hunt has spoken to the Craft Butchers Association and the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) to understand the market conditions for butchers and the impact COVID-19 is having on their supply chains.


Thursday 26 March:

16.48

NFU Deputy President Stuart Roberts and flood management and access policy adviser Dr Mhari Barnes had a call with Lord Gardiner to discuss issues and concerns around access and public rights of way in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.


15.55

Horticulture adviser Rupert Weaver and external affairs manager Liv Phoenix had a call with Theo Clarke (MP for Stafford), the interim chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Fruit and Veg, to brief her on the current issues affecting the horticulture sector and to look at what the APPG can contribute to the debate around food supply.


15.21

The BPS and economics teams today discussed the impact of COVID-19 on the delivery of the Countryside Productivity Small Grants scheme and the Growth Programme with Defra and the RPA. The discussions centred around the ability of farmers to comply with the rules and timescales set out for these payments.


15.00

Message from the horticulture and potatoes board chairman

Horticulture and potatoes board chairman Ali Capper outlines how the horticulture and potatoes team is working hard to do everything it can to help as the impacts of COVID-19 are felt. Members can read the message here.


14.30

Acting chief economics adviser Rohit Kaushish, Director of Policy Andrew Clark and head of taxation Michael Parker spoke with the Treasury today to discuss COVID-19 developments, including feeding back on industry impacts and discussing Government support packages.


12.36

Message from the poultry board chairman

Poultry board chairman Thomas Wornham explains how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting the poultry sector and outlines the work the NFU is doing to keep supply chains moving. Members can read the message here.


12.07

Acting chief economics adviser Rohit Kaushish and economist Priya Punj are today holding their second meeting with RBS/Natwest to discuss the impacts of COVID-19.


11.16

Interview alert

An interview with horticulture and potatoes board chairman Ali Capper setting out why we need help from society at this time to pick fruit and vegetables is due to be broadcast on BBC World Service Business Report at 3.30pm today.


10.32

Message from the sugar board chairman

NFU Sugar board chairman Michael Sly has a message to the UK’s sugar beet growers about NFU Sugar’s work to keep the homegrown industry operating during the COVID-19 pandemic. Members can read his message here.


09.45

Food service disruption and the supply chain: view from the NFU

Head of Food and Farming Philip Hambling outlines how the NFU is responding to the coronavirus crisis, particularly the disruption it has caused in the food service market, and how we are ensuring farmers are continuing to keep the nation fed. Read the blog here.


08.50

Chief food chain adviser Christine McDowell has spoken to a number of retailers about current and predicted sales as well as upcoming planned promotions, such as Easter campaigns. Discussions were also held about how they are working with the wider agri-food industry to help redirect volume from food service to retail.


Wednesday 25 March:

17.05

NFU President Minette Batters and Vice President Tom Bradshaw took part in a roundtable discussion today about seasonal labour supply. There will be further meetings with officials and Ministers throughout this week and next.


15.47

Message from the crops board chairman

National crops board chairman Matt Culley has a message for members about the NFU's work to help farmers as they continue to provide essential food for the public during the COVID-19 pandemic. Members can read the message here.


15.40

Chief food chain adviser Christine McDowell had a call with IGD, 70 other food industry organisations and 40 other stakeholders, including local government and food banks, to discuss ways of distributing donations of food to vulnerable people. She also had a call with SALSA, which provides food safety accreditation to SME food producers and manufacturers, to discuss the impact of COVID-19 and how to deal with audits.


15.00

Acting head of external affairs Rocky Lorusso has today spoken to Tim Farron MP, Lib Dem spokesperson for Food and Farming, about how farming is being affected by the COVID-19 outbreak and outlined to him some of the main challenges facing members.


13.57

Food chain adviser Helen Hunt has been speaking to KFC and Nando’s about the impacts of COVID-19 on their supply chains.


12.47

Message from the livestock board chairman

With the impacts of COVID-19 being felt across the livestock sector, national livestock board chairman Richard Findlay has a message for members about what the NFU is doing to help. Members can read the message here.


12.15

Sugar sector discussions

NFU Sugar Board chairman Michael Sly and head of sugar James Northen had a conference call with British Sugar and Agriculture Minister Victoria Prentis today to discuss issues surrounding the sugar beet sector, including possible solutions to potential pest problems this spring.


11.30

Grant scheme deadline extended

Following concerns raised by the NFU with the RPA, the deadline for claims for round two of the Countryside Productivity Small Grant Scheme to be submitted has been extended from midnight on May 31 until midnight on July 31. However, members are encouraged to get their claims into the RPA as soon as possible as this will help with the roll out of a third round. There are no other changes to the scheme requirements.


10.51

Message from the dairy board chairman

National dairy board chairman Michael Oakes has outlined how the NFU’s dairy team is working across the supply chain to do everything it can to help in the wake of COVID-19. Members can read his message here.


09.47

President Minette Batters had a call with Shadow Defra Secretary of State Luke Pollard and representatives from grocery retail yesterday in which food supply and food distribution issues were discussed.


Tuesday 24 March:

18.14

Director General Terry Jones had a call with Defra Secretary of State George Eustice where he discussed farm staff movements to and from work under the new restrictions announced on March 23, concerns about seasonal labour supply, and market disruption in the red meat and dairy sectors.


14.57

Landlords urged to be flexible over tenants’ rents

UPDATE: Read more here about NFU Vice President Tom Bradshaw’s letter to all institutional landlords urging them to work with tenants and show flexibility and understanding with regard to rents during the COVID-19 outbreak.


14.14

Bank discussions

Acting chief economics adviser Rohit Kaushish and economist Priya Punj are speaking with the Bank of England and Lloyds Bank today to discuss the impacts of COVID-19. This follows meetings last week with Barclays, RBS/Natwest, HSBC, Clydesdale and Yorkshire banks.


12.17

NFU horticulture and potatoes adviser Emily Roads had a call with the Horticultural Trades Association and Defra today to discuss potential support mechanisms for the ornamental horticultural sector, which is feeling the impacts of reduced sales.


11.31

Public rights of way concerns raised

The NFU is working with Defra and Natural England to address members’ concerns over public rights of way through farm businesses in light of social distancing measures imposed as a result of COVID-19.


10.55

Updated TB testing guidance

The NFU has been calling on Defra and APHA to provide clear guidance to farmers on the implications of COVID-19 for statutory bTB testing. This guidance is now available here.


09.50

Dairy supply chain stakeholder call

The NFU coordinated a dairy supply chain stakeholder conference call yesterday afternoon to bring together the key organisations and discuss supply chain issues. The group will feed in to Defra to ensure any issues are raised immediately.


08.55

NFU writes to institutional landlords

NFU Vice President Tom Bradshaw has written to all institutional landlords urging them to work with their tenants and show flexibility and understanding with regard to rent in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.


Monday 23 March:

17.05

Interview alert

NFU President Minette Batters is due to be interviewed live on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme from 7.30am tomorrow morning, covering the impact of coronavirus on farm, including labour shortages and supply chain disruptions.


16.55

Horticulture and potatoes adviser Emily Roads had a call with representatives from the Ornamental Horticulture sector to share information and arising issues, discuss policy solutions and agree actions moving forward in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.


15.55

Dairy team working with Freshways

The NFU dairy team is liaising with Freshways after the processor announced last week that it was issuing a price cut and extending terms to farmers following the loss of food service business.The team is trying to access Government support to help the affected farmers and also assisting members directly with advice.


15.00

Poultry adviser Aimee Mahony had a call with Defra and other stakeholders, including APHA and the Food Standards Agency, to discuss salmonella testing and contingecy plans in relation to COVID-19.


14.10

The NFU’s Food Chain team has been working to help link up food service businesses with retail supply chains to try to help provide additional volumes into shops, where the demand has fallen off in food service.


12:22

Agriculture eligible for Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan scheme

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan scheme has now launched. Following NFU discussions with the Treasury and financial services sector, agriculture is now eligible but at a reduced rate due to state aid rules. The NFU will shortly be providing updates on the details of the scheme.


11:21

The NFU poultry team is speaking to Defra officials today about the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the poultry meat sector. Among the areas for discussion will be the financial impact , including cash flow, as well as impact on the supply chain, and staffing/workforce.


Saturday 21 March:

09:05

NFU in the news: NFU President Minette Batters was on BBC Radio 4’s PM programme on Saturday following Defra Secretary of State George Eustice’s press conference about the coronavirus outbreak.


Friday 20 March:

13:19

Government makes further funding available for flood-hit farmers

NFU win: Intense NFU campaigning has resulted in government increasing its Farm Recovery Fund pot by £6m, taking the total funding available to £10m, to help farmers affected by torrential rain from storms in February that led to wide-scale flooding. Read the NFU response here.


12:31

NFU head of food and farming Phil Hambling had a call with the Government Food Chain Emergency Liaison Group call this morning. A variety of topics were discussed, including labour and seasonal labour; advice for food premises; regulatory burdens; competition law and looking after the vulnerable in society.


10:57

Government relaxes three-crop rule

NFU win: The Environment Secretary George Eustice has confirmed that the government intends to relax the crop diversification requirements known as the 'three crop rule' for farmers for 2020, as farmers in flooded areas have suggested they will have difficulty complying with the rule this year. Read the NFU response here.

10:12

Flood management and access policy adviser Mhari Barnes and the BPS team are speaking to Defra and RPA officials about updates on support for members around the Farming Recovery Fund and wet weather affecting compliance with the greening crop diversification rules, which had put many businesses under pressure before the COVID 19 outbreak. Clarification is needed on these matters to help members plan for the coming months.


09:55

The NFU poultry team is speaking to Defra to explain the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the laying hen sector. They will be discussing the financial impact , including cash flow, as well as issues relating to the supply chain and staffing/workforce.


09:23

Chief food chain adviser Christine McDowell has spoken to Red Tractor today to discuss inspections and remote audits. She has also spoken to other certification bodies, including organic, this week to understand their position on on-farm inspections.

Christine is also speaking to retail contacts every day to understand where supply chain pinch points are. She has also spoken to retailers and the IGD about getting food to vulnerable people.


08:14

Chief environment adviser Diane Mitchell is working with the Environment Agency on inspections and farm visits and the need for guidance for farmers to help with contingency planning.

Thursday 19 March:

15:47

Flood management and access policy adviser Mhari Barnes had a conference call with the Environment Agency and Defra to discuss the continued flood recovery measures during the current situation.


14:11

Chief combinable crops adviser Harriette Roberts spoke to the new arable lead at Defra about how COVID 19 is already impacting the sector and how it might in the future.


11:37

Chief livestock adviser John Royle had a conference call with the Defra team leader for red meat and dairy and the Defra head of animal welfare to discuss the issues currently facing the livestock sector, including livestock markets, labour issues on farm and in processing, on-farm inspections and other supply chain challenges. A further call is planned for next Monday afternoon (23 March).

Please also stay up to date with government advice - click here to go to the information hub at the Gov.uk website.



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