British farming support urged by trade bodies at emergency summit

Leading bodies in the farming industry met for an emergency summit to discuss serious concerns faced by the trade. 

The summit revealed there will be severe consequences if a significant change to the way food is sold is not made. To overcome the issues the government, together with retailers, processors, and the European Union have been urged not to ignore the “warning signs”.

The union presidents of the National Farmers’ Union, NFU Scotland, NFU Cymru and the Ulster Farmers’ Union, alongside Farmers for Action, Tenant Farmers’ Association, Country Land and Business Association, and National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs provided a joint statement addressing specific areas of the industry.

“Collectively, we had to come up with some answers for the current crisis,” said Allan Bowie, president of NFU Scotland.

“If you look at lamb, as well as the beef trade in the last six months, commodity markets worldwide are causing huge problems.”

He believes that engaging with consumers will play an integral part in the recovery of the industry. “We need more promotional activity to get people to understand what our food is, where they can get it, what it means, what it costs to get there – and to start really valuing the food on the shelf rather than just taking it for granted.”

The recovery of the British farming industry is not solely down to the understanding and loyalty of the public, said the statement, adding: “We would urge farm ministers across the UK to meet urgently. They need to admit that something has gone fundamentally wrong in the supply chain and take remedial action.”

Many contracts see farmers take all the risk, with little reward received. The government has been called upon to make sure contracts to all farmers are fairer in distributing reward for farmers’ hard work.

Meanwhile, the EU will also be urged to support British farmers at a meeting of the Council of Agriculture Ministers in September.

“We are calling for UK ministers to stand up for British farming at that meeting,” declared the statement. “In particular to ensure that European safety nets are at a proper level and underwrite the short-term credit position of vulnerable farmers.”

Bowie concluded by calling on all areas of the industry to stand united: “We can’t do this on our own. We will have to engage with others within the supply chain. However, there may well be some within that who say we don’t have a problem. Actually, morally everyone has a problem here. This has to be fixed.”

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