Archbishop delivers annual NFU Henry Plumb lecture

Published 24 November 2021

Back British Farming

More than 100 guests came together in London on Monday evening to hear the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby deliver the annual NFU Henry Plumb lecture. In this far-reaching lecture he took the opportunity to acknowledge the work the farming community does for the UK's wellbeing, environment and economy.

His thought-provoking lecture highlighted the key role farmers play in rural communities, the importance of producing affordable and nutritious food, and he encouraged people to eat locally and seasonally.

He also discussed the role of the church in supporting rural communities and acknowledged the challenges faced in rural areas.

The important need to educate about food and farming and for food served in our schools to be British also featured, as did net zero and the new Agriculture Act.

Food standards and trade

On food standards and trade, he said: “Our farming communities can lead the way on food standards, animal welfare, trade and exports that make people’s lives better and more prosperous around the world.”

He said that the farming community had a unique opportunity to be at the heart of building relationships overseas.

“Making the most of the overseas market post-Brexit is crucial. We need to get our trade deals right to protect the world-class British standards of farming – bad deals risk exporting environmental and animal welfare harms and destroying farmers livelihoods.

“The reach of the NFU is not just in the local communities and the farmers it represents, it’s global.”

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby

“Government needs to partner with farmers to build global ambition and increase the British food brand identity across the world to grow global markets.

“The new Agriculture Act means there is an opportunity for British farming to become a global leader in sustainable, climate-friendly, high standard food production.”

Global reach

The Archbishop concluded by highlighting the influence of the NFU and the key role of communities. He said, “The reach of the NFU is not just in the local communities and the farmers it represents, it’s global. Now is the time to harness these challenges, from the local to the global level, and transform them into opportunities.

“We can put down firm roots in values and communities, and those roots enable us to be resilient and flexible when any storms come. They are what will help us – the country, our farming communities and the church – to be ambitious and innovative as things change.

“That way we can ensure we fulfil our potential and flourish together, as the farming industry cares for our wellbeing, our environment and our economy for many years to come.”

Lord Henry Plumb 

Henry Plumb NFU President from 1970 to 1978. Now Lord Henry Plumb, he dedicates his time to helping young people get a good start in food and farming.

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