Helping farmers to produce the food we need
Unlike any other industry, everyone has a connection with farming. Why? Because the food you eat has been produced by farmers. The National Farmers Union (NFU) was set up in 1908 to represent the interests of farmers and that principle remains today as we are here to give our British farmers a voice. Our purpose is to champion British agriculture and horticulture, to campaign for a stable and sustainable future for British farmers and to support our members with advice and guidance.
We feel that if UK farming is to continue to produce the food we eat and meet the challenges of climate change and food security, as well as rearing and producing our farmed animals to the high standards that the UK public expect, then farmers need a level playing field in which to work and trade. It is our role at the NFU to ensure the industry is granted this and it has never been a more important role than right now as trade deals are being negotiated; we work so that our sector is not undermined by allowing in food imports that fail to meet its high ideals.
The NFU prides ourselves on our local representation. Nationally we have a network of more than 300 local offices joint with the NFU Mutual. Here in Dorset, there are six local offices with two in the Blackmore Vale – Sturminster Newton and Sherborne. Jude Green and Justin Pinder lead the Sturminster Newton office and Shelley Goodfellow leads the Sherborne office. These NFU Group Secretaries can provide professional advice and help to NFU members, supported by the extensive network of over 200 NFU staff on a county, regional and national level. Between the local Group Secretary and the County Adviser, they play a crucial role maintaining grass root relationships with farmers and stakeholders in Dorset.
Coronavirus has impacted everyone’s lives, for farming one of the biggest impacts has been from the loss of the restaurant, pub and takeaway trade, what the industry refers to as the ‘out of home’ sector, through the lockdowns. This accounts for up to half the fresh produce that is sold in the UK – the proportions vary depending on what is being supplied, but it is a crucial market for meat, milk and vegetables. One thing is for sure, the NFU will continue to work tirelessly to support farmers through the problems we have and continue to face and make sure that after the coronavirus has passed, we re-build a more resilient and sustainable domestic food and farming supply chain.
Alongside this, our team scrutinise trade deals; address workforce shortages; lobby to grant more resource for rural crime; act as ambassadors for farm safety; bring farming alive in the classroom through our education work and deal with species re-introduction proposals. Our work is certainly varied!
Watch out for Back British Farming Day on Wednesday 15th September 2021, this is the NFU’s public-facing campaign, driving support for the British food and farming sector through simple actions like buying British produce or enjoying the countryside responsibly. More information can be found on our Countryside Website at Back British Farming | Countryside Online
There are many challenges facing the industry now, but farmers – who are nothing if not resilient and resourceful – are continuing to work hard to make sure we have the food we need alongside managing our great British countryside. There are also many opportunities, and our farming industry has scope to be able to provide the solutions to many of our challenges. Above all we must protect the high standards of food safety, animal welfare and environmental protection that the British public value so highly.
We look forward to contributing to the BV’s monthly magazine and we hope we will bring you along with us during this exciting and challenging time ahead for the farming industry. We look forward to discussing the farming issues of the day with you as well as introducing you to some of the farmers in our area and their businesses. It is also a chance for us to highlight some of the farming campaigns such as the #LoveLamb Week running now – 1st to 7th September – showcasing the delicious, nutritious, and climate-friendly British lamb.
By: Louise Stratton – NFU Dorset County Advisor
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