NFU members hold talks on farm with the Prime Minister

08 January 2024

Rishi Sunak talking to a crowd of farmers inside a farm shed

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was out on farm for sector talks with the NFU and its members during a private meeting in the Derbyshire Peaks.

George and Sheila Wainwright welcomed the Prime Minister to Edale, in the Hope Valley, where they farm with their sons Stephen and Richard.

The family runs an extensive upland sheep and beef farming enterprise, along with tourist accommodation.

The Prime Minister spoke with around 20 Peak District farmers and industry representatives including NFU Derbyshire county adviser Andrew Critchlow.

Mr Sunak saw first-hand the high standards British farmers adhere to and the stunning Derbyshire landscape that they manage.

The meeting, on 5 January, was part of the Prime Minister’s wider tour of the county and was organised by High Peak MP, Robert Largan.

Seeing the issues first-hand

Farmer Stephen Wainwright said: “We welcomed the Prime Minister and it was useful to get him out on farm and show him what we do.

“Farming, food production and the environment go hand-in-hand and I am sure he enjoyed seeing the Derbyshire Peaks.

“We were able to cover a lot of ground and I must say I was impressed with his farming knowledge - it is important we now see the return of public money for public goods to us.”

Mr Wainwright said one of his biggest concerns was how those farmers taking ‘all of the business risk’ could secure the right level of funding to produce food and enhance the landscape for wildlife and visitors.

We were able to cover a lot of ground and I must say I was impressed with his [Rishi Sunak’s] farming knowledge - it is important we now see the return of public money for public goods to us.”

NFU member and farmer Stephen Wainwright

This was also raised in relation to environmental cooperatives including the PEF (Peakland Environmental Farmers) group - this is a group of farmers and moorland managers who have come together to create ambitious environmental outcomes at scale, in the Dark Peak and Southwest Peak.

The PEF group is looking to enhance nature, provide climate mitigation and carbon sequestration, and to improve water quality in the Peak District for the public good, alongside sustainable food production and game management.

Farmers need to be paid swiftly

County adviser Andrew Critchlow said: “I would like to thank the Prime Minister for his time, the Wainwright family for hosting and MP Robert Largan for arranging the visit.

“Finally, a thank you to all the family farmers who were there and are all working hard to produce great tasting, high quality food from our uplands, in often challenging conditions, while maintaining our countryside.

“We impressed on the Prime Minister the need for policies in place that support British farming and reinforced the need for farmers to be paid swiftly for the work they are already doing in providing public goods.”

At the meeting farmers called for targets for British food production and practical and progressive policies to allow British food and farming to thrive.

Other issues discussed included opportunities for next generation farmers, animal disease and plant health, and ensuring the Sustainable Farming Incentive was fit for purpose and accessible.

After the farm meeting, the Prime Minister saw the Wainwright family’s beef cattle and took in the view of the Edale Valley, with a discussion about the value of the landscape to the tourism economy.

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