NFU responds to The Grocer 'big interview' with Chris Packham

A picture of NFU President Tom Bradshaw stood in an office looking at the camera

NFU President Tom Bradshaw has written to The Grocer following its 'big interview' with Chris Packham, where the TV presenter and conservationist criticises the NFU and British farming.

In the interview – ‘Chris Packham on taking his environmental crusade into grocery’ – Packham claims the NFU lobbies in the wrong way and does not represent “little farmers”.

Packham says the NFU doesn't put enough emphasis on environmentally friendly farming, in part blaming British farming practices for the wettest winter on record.

The article also claims the NFU hasn't done enough to support farmers impacted by trade deals with countries that have lower production standards than our own. 

The NFU has written to The Grocer to highlight the inaccuracies of the statements made throughout the interview, referencing our public campaigns on food standards and our lobbying in Westminster on behalf of all our members, “irrespective of size or sector”. 

To the editor,

I don’t recognise the British farming industry Chris Packham discusses in his recent interview.

Every farmer and grower I meet is proud to work the land to produce food for the nation while protecting and enhancing the British countryside.

And I am proud to lead the NFU (yes an effective lobbying organisation!), working on behalf of British farmers and growers to ensure their farming businesses, irrespective of size or sector, can thrive.

A successful farming sector matters to everyone.

Many times, I wondered why the NFU was so heavily referenced in an article in essence secured to promote a new brand of rice, but moreover why so many of those references were fundamentally wrong.

On trade, for example, the NFU brought together environmentalists, chefs and food producers to launch a campaign – supported by one million people – which secured clear policy changes from the government to ensure British farmers (and the public) are safeguarded from trade deals that would have seen food imports produced to standards that would be illegal here.

In the years that followed, we could not have been more vocal about the impacts of the Australia and New Zealand trade delas on UK farmers. This resulted in a welcome change of tact from the then government, which announced a pause in negotiations with Canada this year because it was demanding too much on beef and cheese products.

We also launched a campaign with WWF, to make it illegal to import many of the products that Packham talks about in the article and embed core standards within trade.

This is what driving forward meaningful change looks like.

At a time when our global security is unstable and the World Food Programme estimates more than 333 million people are facing acute levels of food insecurity, we have to be able to feed ourselves. Not with words, but with nutritious food that we can and should produce more of, rather than rely on others, or export our environmental conscience abroad.

Farmers are committed to delivering food in harmony with nature and are a key part of solving the climate challenge but this needs to be embraced by the whole supply chain, including consumers, to speed up progress.

Tom Bradshaw

NFU President

The full article can be found at:

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