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NFU President Calls for Production-geared Policies

NFU President Calls for Production-geared Policies

19 September 2011

UK - A call for clearer market signals and a more production-geared policy framework that will allow Britain's farmers to truely meet rising domestic and global demand for food was the key message from the UK National Farmer's Union President.

Speaking at a high-level industry seminar organised by Cargill PLC, at Old Trafford, Manchester, the NFU President argued that increased home food production would be vital in keeping food price inflation in check and boosting economic recovery.

“The most recent predictions suggest a UK population of 70 million, not by 2030 but by 2026. That’s an additional eight million mouths to feed in just 14 years’ time. If we don’t step up production in this country, we’ll be less than 50 per cent self-sufficient in indigenous foods by then,” he said.

Farmers, added the NFU President, believed in the market but needed to be sent “clear and transparent” signals to make informed production choices.

He said: “As a farmer, I want fluid and transparent markets that give me a chance to lock into a margin and for many farmers that’s the market place that suits their business.

“But with the increase in volatility, many of us are seeking to reduce that risk. We want to form supply chain agreements, become preferred suppliers of traceable and sustainable products, where risk is managed and shared.

“We want to see the development of more sophisticated management of input costs that goes beyond just putting two years’ supply of nitrogen in the shed.

“And lastly, for the market to work, we need a supply chain where the balance of power is not abused. It is why we have pushed for the Grocery Supply Code of Practice and an adjudicator to police it."

Turning to the policy framework, Mr Kendall said that he was frustrated by the latest indications from Brussels of thinking on the CAP.

“I simply do not accept the argument – which seems to underpin the leaked proposals for reform of the CAP – that Europe’s farmers cannot compete on the world stage,” he said.

“With the right political framework and the right signals from our partners in the food chain, farmers can and will respond to the challenges of producing more food, and producing it sustainably.

“Our latest Farmer Confidence Survey, carried out this summer, found that 50% of farmers are planning to increase production over the next five years, up from 35% a year ago. We have the land, we have the skills and we have the technology, always provided that we are allowed to use it to best effect.

“We need policies from Brussels that encourage production and do not penalise scale and efficiency and we want government in the UK to look at all new legislation through a food lens, so we avoid unintended consequences and encourage investment in productive farming.”

He finished with a challenge to his audience of representatives of businesses from across the spectrum of the UK food industry.

“Work with us to improve the transparency of the market and the efficiency of the supply chain on the one hand, and to secure a policy framework which is geared to the needs of a productive, forward-looking industry on the other.

“That is the only way we are going to meet the domestic and global food supply challenges.”

TheCropSite News Desk

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