Crucial that politicians recognise the value of British agriculture

28 September 2022

2022 panel for the NFU fringe event at the Labour Party 2022 Conference

NFU Fringe panel: Hywel Lloyd, Labour Coast & Country, NFU President, Tom Bradshaw, Polly Toynbee, The Guardian, Shadow Secretary of State for EFRA, Jim McMahon MP, and Chris Curtis, Head of political polling at Opinium

Food policy will be crucial at the next election which could come as early as 2023. That’s why, the NFU once again, is attending this year’s round of party political conferences. Read on to find out what happened at our fringe event at the 2022 Labour party conference.

The political party conference season kicked off with the Labour party conference in Liverpool from Sunday 25 September to Wednesday 28 September. 

The NFU fringe events are an important part of political party conference activity and a chance for members to get involved. This year, we asked the Labour party what their vision is for the future of farming and food security.

We brought together a range of speakers to discuss the party's vision for the future of domestic food production and the policies needed to support a thriving agricultural sector.

A full house 

With a buzz in the air across the city of Liverpool after the announcement that Labour is 17% ahead in the polls, this was the perfect opportunity to ask how Labour would ensure British farmers can continue to deliver high-quality, affordable, and climate-friendly food for the nation while also protecting and caring for our environment.

It was standing room only as more than 100 people crammed into the Grace Suite at Liverpool’s Hilton Hotel to hear from a panel which included NFU Deputy President Tom Bradshaw, Jim McMahon, MP, Shadow Defra Secretary, Hywel Lloyd, Labour Coast & Country and Chris Curtis, Head of Political Polling, Opinium, chaired expertly by Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee.

Your questions answered 

After the panellists each gave a talk for five minutes on their vision for the future of domestic food production and the policies needed to support a thriving agricultural sector, it was down to questions from the audience.

Topics ranged from immediate ways to support farmers contending with rising input costs and farm workers getting a fair wage, to raising the profile of farming as a place to work and as a career.

The takeaway message? It is crucial that politicians from all parties recognise the value of British agriculture and what more farmers can do with the right policies in place.

Stay updated:

Keep checking this page for further updates from the Labour party conference.

We will also be at the Conservative party conference, which follows in Birmingham from Sunday 2 October through to Wednesday 5 October.

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The panel

Chair: Polly Toynbee, The Guardian
Tom Bradshaw – NFU Deputy President
Jim McMahon MP – Shadow EFRA Secretary, Labour MP for Oldham East and Royton
Hywel Lloyd - Labour: Coast & Country
Chris Curtis – Head of Political Polling, Opiniu

Polly Toynbee

Columnist for The Guardian

Polly Toynbee is a long-standing columnist writing for The Guardian.

Formerly BBC Social Affairs Editor, Polly has also served as an Associate Editor for The Independent, as Co-editor of Washington Monthly and as a reporter and feature writer for The Observer. She has been awarded a National Press Award, What the Papers Say, and British Press Awards Columnist of the Year.

Tom Bradshaw

NFU Deputy President

Tom farms in partnership with his wife, Emily, and his parents in North Essex. Alongside a small owned farm they run a larger contract farming business growing a range of combinable crops across 950 hectares in North East Essex.

The home farm is based around arable production but has also diversified into equestrian and renewables.

Tom has represented the NFU from Local Branch Chairman through to Chair of the National Combinable Crops Board.

Officeholder responsibilities 

  • Animal health and welfare including bTB
  • Climate change and net zero
  • Water and air issues
  • Clean air strategy
  • Workforce supply and training
  • Farm assurance and labelling
  • Food safety
  • Banking
  • Animal ID and movements

Jim McMahon

Former Shadow Secretary of State for EFRA and MP for Oldham West and Royton

Jim McMahon was appointed Shadow Secretary of State for EFRA (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) on 29 November 2021. Before this, he served as Shadow Transport Secretary and Shadow Minister for Local Government and Devolution. He was elected as the Labour MP for Oldham West and Royton in 2015. 

He was replaced by Steve Reed MP on 4 September 2023.

Prior to his parliamentary career, he became a councillor age 23, and then went on to become Leader of Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council. He was a member of Labour’s National Executive Committee, as a Labour Councillor, and also Labour Group Leader and Vice-chair of the Local Government Association Labour Group.

Hywel Lloyd

Labour: Coast & Country

Hywel Lloyd seeks to promote sustainable local communities through local governance and ownership, particularly energy, land and local food.

He has worked for the Ministerial teams of Rt Hon Hazel Blears at CLG, Rt Hon Hilary Benn at Defra, and spent time improving local public services across the UK while at the OPM (Office for Public Management).

Chris Curtis

Head of Political Polling, Opinium

Chris Curtis is the Head of Political Polling at Opinium, having previously worked in YouGov’s political team.

He works on Opinium’s UK wide polling series for the Observer, as well as conducting regular research for Sky News and The Sun. He is a regular commentator on the polls and politics, having written for The Times, The Guardian, and The New Statesman on these subjects.


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