South farms host Secretary of State visit

14 August 2023

Therese Coffey, Scott Pepe and Peter Knight during a farm visit

Photograph: Caroline and David Harriott showed Secretary of State Thérèse Coffey the huge environmental benefits of sustainable livestock farming in the UK

Key farming issues were under discussion when Secretary of State Thérèse Coffey visited farms in Surrey and West Sussex.

The NFU’s Westminster team worked with regional colleagues to set up two 45-minute visits, one hosted by NFU Surrey Council Representative Peter Knight near Godalming in Surrey and one by past NFU West Sussex County Chair Caroline Harriott.

Both visits involved a quick tour around the farm before a discussion around the farm kitchen table on issues raised.

At Peter Knight’s farm, the Secretary of State saw the potential challenges posed by losing seed treatments and parallel imports of crop protection products. Members also stressed the need to deliver on the ambition of the Rock Review into farm tenancies.

At Caroline’s farm, Dr Coffey was driven round in Caroline’s truck to feed the cattle. She learned about strip grazing and fodder beet and saw the benefits that cattle and sheep bring to soil health. During discussions she pledged to fix the challenges in accessing SFI for fields with SHINE designations.

NFU External Affairs Manager Scott Pepe said: “These were very useful visits. Getting Defra ministers, especially the Secretary of State, out on farm is one of the best ways we can lobby, demonstrating the impact that government decisions can have on the ground.

"There is no substitute for getting decision makers out on farm and the Secretary of State pledged to address several issues that members raised. I would like to thank the members who hosted and who came along on the day.”

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