NFU President outlines farmer challenges directly to the PM

An image of NFU President Minette Batters shaking hands with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak

Photograph: 10 Downing Street

NFU President Minette Batters delivered a clear message direct to 10 Downing Street following a meeting with the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak where she called for action on the commitments he made to farmers during the summer. Read on to find out what was discussed at Minette's first meeting with Mr Sunak following his appointment as Prime Minister. 

For months now the NFU has been engaging with the highest levels of government and campaigning on a wide range of issues on everything from food supply chain issues to seasonal worker shortages. 

Our campaigning efforts culminated in an emergency Fairness for farmers and growers press conference where Minette warned that "British food is under threat."

Now the NFU has raised the challenges farmers are facing directly with Number 10, where Minette reminded the Prime Minister of the key pledges he made to farmers during the NFU’s Summer Hustings event.

Prime Minister's pledges

Key amongst these promises was the need to establish a food security target, underpinned by a statutory duty to monitor domestic food production and to hold a UK-wide annual food security summit.

The discussion also focused on the need for fairness within the supply chain, as well as drawing on the positives of the recent announcement on visas for seasonal workers, and the opportunities for British food and farming, particularly in the fruit and vegetable sector, if supply chain issues can be resolved and production costs stabilised.

“The past year has been a stark reminder of what we stand to lose if British food and farming is taken for granted, and why it needs to be a political priority.”

NFU President Minette Batters

Minette said: “The Prime Minister was very receptive and it’s clear that he is taking food and energy security seriously.

“The past year has been a stark reminder of what we stand to lose if British food and farming is taken for granted, and why it needs to be a political priority. British farmers and growers have so much to offer to the nation, providing high quality, affordable, climate friendly food alongside increasingly important renewable energy and a thriving countryside for us all to enjoy. But the past year has been a stark reminder of what we stand to lose if British food and farming is taken for granted, and why it needs to be a political priority.”

Make-or-break moment for British farming

We recognise that these are unprecedented times for farmers and growers owing to a myriad of challenges that are hitting every sector hard. 

When Rishi Sunak entered office as Prime Minister, we wrote to the new Defra Secretary of State Thérèse Coffey, outlining the key measures needed to ensure the stability of UK agricultural production. 

In November, we called on Defra to urgently investigate the egg supply chain issues.

At our annual Henry Plumb Lecture, the former Director General of MI5 stressed that home-grown food production is vital to our nation’s security and success.

Minette added: “The Prime Minister made it clear today that he wants to provide an environment for British food and farming to thrive, and what farmers and growers need more than anything is certainty.”

Minette went on to specify that this means continued support on the energy crisis, enabling fair contractual relationships in the supply chain, establishing a national food security target, and providing clarity and delivering effective policies such as the new Environmental Land Management schemes. 

“I hope this meeting and the Prime Minister’s commitment to ensuring Britain has a thriving food and sector will mark a turning point in how our government values and prioritises the production of home-grown food, and demonstrates this government does back British farming.”

Listen to Minette's summary of the meeting in her weekly vlog, recorded fresh from leaving the doorsteps of Downing Street.

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