Great Yorkshire Show – NFU meets with new government

10 July 2024

Rachel Hallos and NFU officials sat at a table with Defra Secretary Steve Reed, Farming Minister Daniel Zeichner and Defra Director of farming reforms Janet Hughes

Photograph: NFU Vice President Rachel Hallos and NFU officials meet with Defra Secretary Steve Reed, Farming Minister Daniel Zeichner and Defra Farming and Countryside Programme Director Janet Hughes.

The NFU, business and tourism leaders are highlighting farming’s pivotal role in contributing £3.4 billion to the local economy at the Great Yorkshire Show.

With a new government in place the NFU, Grow Yorkshire and Farm Stay are reminding ministers of the many benefits farming provides in terms of food production, jobs, the environment and our communities, and will make clear how investment in the sector will ensure this continues.

Official figures reveal that farming contributes more than £3.4 billion to Yorkshire economy and rural tourism and provides more than 30,000 jobs in the county.

NFU President Tom Bradshaw, Vice President Rachel Hallos and other NFU representatives have been on the stand taking questions from members. The newly formed government and Tom’s first meeting with new Defra Secretary Steve Reed featured as hot topics for discussion.

On day two of the show, Rachel met with Mr Reed, along with newly appointed Farming Minister Daniel Zeichner and Defra Farming and Countryside Programme Director Janet Hughes in a roundtable discussion where Rachel and NFU county chairs were able to discuss the most pressing issues affecting the sector.

Following the meeting Rachel said: “The conversation was very positive and it was good to hear that there is a will to work collaboratively, which was welcomed by all the farmers attending the meeting.

“I certainly left the meeting with a viewpoint of let’s get on with it then – we all recognise the problems, let’s come up with the solutions.

“Let’s increase the confidence of our farmers and get this moving, we’ve got a lot to do. We can grow the food, we can farm the environment. Let’s make it work.”

Speaking after the show, Mr Reed said: “It is clear from meeting farmers and growers they have been neglected for too long, and confidence is at an all-time low. But this government will give them their futures back.”

Farmers and growers need confidence

NFU President Tom Bradshaw said: “Yorkshire is the largest county in England and farming is its lifeblood. It is connected to every industry from distribution, to the food and drinks sector and more, a place for visitors to come on holiday with lots of farms now diversifying offering people great places to stay.

“Our family farms contribute a significant amount to the local economy and rural tourism and employ thousands of people across the industry.

“What farmers and growers need now is confidence. We need urgent clarity from the government on the budget it will allocate to agriculture. This investment is crucial if we want farming to continue contributing to the economy, delivering for the environment and building resilience into businesses.

We can grow the food, we can farm the environment. Let’s make it work.”

NFU Vice President Rachel Hallos

“The NFU is pleased to partner with two fantastic organisations in Grow Yorkshire and Farm Stay who both champion British food and farming, and benefit from this hugely important sector.”

Practical policies

The NFU wants to work with the new government to deliver food security and is calling for practical policies which give confidence to the industry and stimulate growth.

The priority is to set an increased multi-year agriculture budget which lasts for the duration of the next parliament.

Prioritising this budget will enable actions in every constituency, deliver the confidence to the industry, ensuring it will deliver on the government’s own food security and environmental ambitions.

The NFU is also calling for the new government to deliver fairness in the supply chain and to bring forward legislation as soon as possible to ensure at least half of all food purchased across the public sector is produced locally.

The development and establishment of core production standards to prevent Yorkshire farmers from being undercut by food imports produced to standards that would be illegal here are also being sought.

Helping farmers overcome issues around accessing labour and mitigating against the devastating impact of flooding are among other key asks being pushed by the NFU.

Some of these key farming issues are due to be raised during an NFU panel discussion at the show.

The panel will also look at how farm diversification is helping to boost farm businesses and rural tourism and why the need for investment in the future of farming across the county has never been more critical.

Getting members’ voices heard

NFU North Regional Director David Hall said: “Yorkshire is the biggest county and farming is its backbone producing great-tasting sustainable food as well as benefiting the environment and boosting the local rural communities and the economy all year round.

“To see the dedication our farmers and growers continue to demonstrate after what has been an unprecedented and challenging time of wet weather, with the addition of ongoing labour shortages and rising production costs, is truly remarkable and I’m looking forward to speaking with them at the Great Yorkshire Show about what more we can do to ensure they are supported both now and in the future, so they, their families and their farming businesses thrive.

“The NFU has always pushed for more commitment from the government to secure a more resilient and sustainable future for our farming families and with a new government in power, it has never been more important to have our members’ voices heard.

“I look forward to seeing them at the show and engaging with politicians to ensure a more positive future for the Yorkshire farming community.”

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