NFU President Minette Batters recently joined members in Meirionnydd to discuss the union’s significant campaigning and lobbying work over the last year.
Addressing members at their annual county conference, Mrs Batters highlighted the NFU’s key workstreams and reflected on the success of the union’s flagship food standards campaign in 2020 which later led to the formation of the new Trade and Agriculture Commission.
Mrs Batters said: “It’s a huge relief that the government has secured a deal to ensure we can continue to trade quota and tariff-free with the EU. But our new relationship is very different. We are out of the single market, we are out of the customs union so there will be a bit of friction, and unfortunately friction equals cost – we hope this will be resolved soon.
“As a sovereign nation, the UK is now also tasked with negotiating and securing its own trade deals with the rest of the world. With this comes great opportunity for British farming, but only if we secure the right deals for our country.”
Mrs Batters explained that the union has long been clear that undermining British farming’s strong credentials in any future trade deal is simply unacceptable. That was why last year the NFU launched a food standards campaign calling for the government to form a new Trade and Agriculture Commission to allow proper scrutiny of potential trade deals before they are ratified.
The campaigning efforts reached far and wide, with the help of celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and a number of key media outlets. More than 1 million people – around 1 in 60 people living in the UK - signed the union’s food standards petition calling on government to protect UK food standards in future trade deals. This public drive also saw more than 500,000 people become Back British Farming supporters and helped generate more than 80,000 emails to MPs in just one week, urging their local elected representative to play an active role in the Agriculture Bill debate and to support the cause of Welsh and British farmers.
Mrs Batters reflected on this significant achievement which led to a seismic shift in government policy and described it as a ‘huge win’ for not only farmers but also the public, who have whole-heartedly supported the campaign and who don’t want to see cheaper, lower standard imports on supermarket shelves.
Mrs Batter concluded: “It’s only the fact that the NFU represents the enormous amount of farming businesses across England and Wales that we have the power to secure meetings with party leaders and the Prime Minister and to make a difference for the industry – so thank you for your continued support.”
NFU Cymru President John Davies also updated members on a number of key areas of NFU Cymru’s work in recent months, including devolved agricultural policy, NVZs and the union’s net zero ambitions.
Meirionnydd NFU Cymru County Chairman Rhodri Jones said: “I’d like to thank Mrs Batters for joining us at our virtual conference. Although it was a shame we couldn’t meet in person, we were still able to get a real insight into the work of the union and a behind-the-scenes look at all of the lobbying and campaigning work that took place last year. Meirionnydd members are grateful to Mrs Batters and Mr Davies for providing us with this timely update and we look forward to welcoming you in person to a future event in the county.”
NFU Cymru would like to thank HSBC UK for sponsoring all 11 of this year’s virtual county conferences.