Chairman Richard Bower tells the British Farmer & Grower team about the NFU Next Generation Forum's priorities for a crucial 2018, during which the new Domestic Agricultural Policy will take shape.
If a day is a long time in politics, the past 12 months have been a lifetime, with a snap election, a new Defra Secretary of State and prolonged Brexit negotiations which have only increased industry uncertainty. But as agri-entrepreneurs, the next generation is ready to make every challenge an opportunity. That’s the message we relayed in 2017 to media commentators including Radio One’s Newsbeat.
In 2017 we welcomed five new members and strengthened links with NFU Cymru’s Next Generation Policy Forum and the NFU sector boards. We also presented to the brilliant NFU livestock, dairy and poultry development programmes – joined-up working which will continue.
In 2018 more members will be integrated, while a few of us experienced hands will move on, continuing to spread the next gen message through the NFU.
"The next generation is ready to make every challenge an opportunity."
Last year we also welcomed a great new secretary in Rohit Kaushish. Rohit is an economist; he previously worked for Barclays HQ in London and specialises in risk management. He wasted no time in challenging us to set forum priorities:
- Investigate financial risk models for the future Domestic Agricultural Policy (DAP).
- Analyse the CAP’s young farmer top-up, suggesting mechanisms we would like in a future DAP.
- Facilitate policy which up-skills our industry, enables us to face future challenges and, most importantly, to seize opportunities.
Work is already underway. A highlight was a meeting with Defra Secretary Michael Gove, presenting the NFU DAP paper. We were fully involved in the document – after all, the DAP will shape our careers.
Through our joint membership of the European Council of Young Farmers, with the National Federation of Young Farmers, we are analysing how other states implement the young farmer top-up and getting an indication of the direction of 2020 CAP reforms. We have also spoken to the heads of productivity and volatility at Defra – the start of a dialogue which will continue in 2018.
Our work with the World Farmers' Organisation increased and I was selected onto their training programme for future leaders. I also presented at my old university, Harper Adams, alongside NFU Deputy President Minette Batters. We will continue this vital engagement with agri colleges and universities and have built stronger links with the National Land Based College.
As a forum, we thank outgoing NFU President Meurig Raymond and NFU Cymru President Stephen James. Their presidencies have seen the next generation become an integrated part of NFU policy. Long may this continue.