NFU Conservative Party fringe event 2023

02 October 2023, 17:30 – 19:00

The Halle Suite, The Edwardian Manchester, Peter Street, Manchester M2 5GP (outside secure zone)

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Please join the NFU for our NFU Fringe Event at the Conservative Party’s Autumn Conference.

Fringe events are an important part of political party conference activity and a chance for members to get involved. We are hosting fringe events at the Conservative and Labour party conferences, bringing together a range of speakers to discuss the parties' visions for the future of domestic food production and the policies needed to support a thriving agricultural sector.

This year's theme is "Food cannot fail: What's the Conservative Party's long-term plan for British agriculture?". You can see what issues were addressed by the panel, which was chaired by Alice Thompson, at last year's fringe event.

The event is free and NFU members can simply turn up. There's no need to register beforehand.

Chair: Kate McCann – Political editor at Times Radio
Minette Batters – NFU President
Dr Therese Coffey MP – Defra Secretary
Tim J Smith CBE – Chair of the Food and Drink Sector Council

Kate McCann

Political Editor at Times Radio

Kate McCann is currently political editor of Times Radio and has held the post since July 2023.

Kate provides comment and analysis on programmes across Times Radio’s schedule, as well as breaking political stories and interviews on the station. 

She had previously joined TalkTV for its launch in April 2022 as political editor, leaving her role as Sky News political correspondent which she had held for four years. Before moving into broadcast journalism, she was senior political correspondent at The Telegraph for three years and previously spent time as Whitehall correspondent for The Sun. Kate started her career in Westminster as a Parliamentary Researcher.

Minette Batters

NFU President

Minette runs a tenanted family farm in Wiltshire.  The mixed farming business includes a 100-cow continental cross suckler herd, as well as sheep and arable.

Diversification includes the conversion of a 17th century tithe barn into a wedding and corporate events venue, and horse liveries. Minette co-founded the campaigning initiatives 'Ladies in Beef' and the 'Great British Beef Week'.

Campaigning on behalf of NFU members about the importance of British food and farming has been a key driver for Minette throughout her time at the NFU. In 2020 she led one of the most successful petitions ever, bringing together a coalition of chefs, including Jamie Oliver, farmers, environmentalists, consumer groups and animal welfare experts – resulting in over one million people signing the NFU food standards petition. She has also regularly engaged with different media genres including appearances on Desert Island Discs, Question Time, and Any Questions.

She has been an NFU member from grassroots through to County Chair; she served as Wiltshire’s Council delegate and also as Regional Board Chair for the South West. Minette has also been a member of NFU Governance Board and served as NFU Deputy President for four years from 2014 to 2018, before being elected as president in February 2018. Minette is also an ambassador of Farm Africa and was made a Deputy Lieutenant to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in 2021.

Officeholder responsibilities 

  • Trade and standards
  • EU and international relations
  • Taxation and fiscal policy
  • Science and research and development
  • Food supply chain (fair dealing, Markets and Authorities, competition, regulation)
  • Food service
  • AHDB
  • Levelling up
  • Education

The Rt Hon Dr Thérèse Coffey MP

Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Thérèse Coffey was appointed Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on 25 October 2022.

She was previously Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, and Deputy Prime Minister, between 6 September 2022 and 25 October 2022.

She was Secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions between 8 September 2019 and 6 September 2022.

She was Minister of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs between 25 July 2019 and 8 September 2019.

She was Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs from 17 July 2016 to 25 July 2019. She was elected the Conservative MP for Suffolk Coastal in May 2010.

Tim J Smith CBE

Food and Drink Sector Council Chair

Tim J Smith CBE was appointed Chair of the Food and Drink Sector Council in August 2022.

Tim leads the Council’s work to create change within the sector, build a more productive and sustainable food and drink system and look for new opportunities for co-operation within the wider government agenda. As part of his work with the Council, Tim will be delivering some of the measures outlined within the Government’s Food Strategy.

For over three decades Tim held leading roles at several manufacturers in the food sector including Northern Foods, Sara Lee, Express Dairies and latterly Arla Foods where he was CEO. Smith remains the Chairman of Cranswick plc. Between 2008 and 2012, Tim served as Chief Executive of the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

Event details
Start Date
02 October 2023 at 17:30
End Date
02 October 2023 at 19:00

The Halle Suite, The Edwardian Manchester, Peter Street, Manchester M2 5GP (outside secure zone)

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