As the challenges keep on coming, the NFU continues to represent UK farmers to policy makers, says county advisor Gemma Harvey
As has been described in this column over the past year, UK farming is experiencing some significant challenges; the prolonged dry weather over the summer, the changing policy environment and the ever-increasing costs of inputs from seed and fertiliser through to labour and machinery, and, last but not least, energy.
We are all well aware of the rising energy costs and this is being felt significantly on-farm. The NFU has been hearing some shocking figures in terms of price increases from members.
The challenge of food security is ever increasing, particularly against the backdrop of the Ukraine invasion and its ramifications across the globe. It is vital that UK farmers are able to continue to produce high welfare, high standard food for the nation, while at the same time protecting and enhancing the wonderful British countryside that we all love and enjoy. This is key and the NFU absolutely believes that food production and the environment go hand in hand – and our domestic agricultural policy must allow this to take place.
The Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS) is the Government’s replacement offering for farmers following the removal of direct subsidy in the form of the Basic Payment Scheme. The NFU has always maintained that it is vital that any scheme is fit for purpose, delivering for both food production and the environment, allowing our fantastic British farmers to farm profitably and productively as well as protecting and enhancing the natural environment.
Farming voices heard
Over recent weeks, reflecting the changes in the Government and with the appointment of a new DEFRA Secretary of State in Ranil Jayawardena, there has been conversation about the progress of the roll out of the new ELM scheme. The NFU has once again repeated the message of the need for a scheme that is fit for purpose, delivering for both the environment and food production.
The NFU continues to represent its members at all levels. With party conference season in full swing, we have already had a key presence at the Labour and Conservative party conferences. Our President, Minette Batters, is meeting key ministers to ensure that the farming voice is hears, reinforcing the messages regarding for the ELMS to be fit for purposes to allow farm businesses a level of certainty and confidence.
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