NFU Vice President in Derbyshire to address county farmers

Around 80 farmers discussed sector issues, industry business and political campaigning when they met with NFU Vice President David Exwood
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The efforts being made to feed people, set against spiralling on farm costs, changes to farm support and environmental management as well as supply chain fairness were put under the spotlight at Derbyshire NFU annual general meeting.

At the meeting on Tuesday 28 November at Fenny Bentley, near Ashbourne, Mr Exwood discussed the impact on farm businesses following unprecedented hikes in fuel, feed, fertiliser and finance over the past 12 months.

Derbyshire farmers heard Mr Exwood had held on farm meetings with the new Defra Secretary of State Steve Barclay and Labour Shadow Minister Steve Reed and said he had urged both to maintain British food production and safeguard domestic supply.

David Exwood addresses the meeting with Derbyshire farmersDavid Exwood addresses the meeting with Derbyshire farmers
David Exwood addresses the meeting with Derbyshire farmers

He said: “The NFU has a strong voice at the table representing your businesses and my job is to be able to go back again and again when change is needed, building those relationships, calling for action and pushing for solutions to benefit your farms.

“We are the people that produce food, manage the land and maintain the countryside and my message is clear to our politicians, that we are the people to work with if you want to get things done in terms of food production, climate and the environment, and all of the challenges our businesses and communities face.”

A major area that raised plenty of discussion was the Sustainable Farming Incentive scheme (SFI) – a payment scheme whereby the Government pays farmers to adopt and maintain sustainable farming practices that can protect and improve the environment.

Mr Exwood said despite some issues with the scheme and it being a big movement away from the previous Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), the SFI platform was now in place and he urged members to engage with it and draw down the money allocated to farming in the Government’s Budget.

He said: “Hopefully there is now something in there for most farmers and while there will no doubt be teething problems and bumps in the road you can get an application in and get payments out.

“We’ve got better payment rates and you can make it work for your particular farming system.

“There are many things you do on your farms here in Derbyshire where you are farming more sustainably anyway and you can get paid for that, incentivising you to produce in that way.

“You need that certainty and I think we need to get on with it now that it is available, so let’s make it work better for our businesses.”

He also spoke about the public goods upland farms deliver – including managing some of the UK’s most cherished National Parks and producing climate-friendly food.

Derbyshire farmers heard the uplands and moorlands farming model for SFI should be seen soon but the NFU had made gains for all sectors.

“We have been urging Defra to bring forward refreshed SFI options that deliver meaningful income in return for the vital management hill farms deliver and the environmental goods they supply,” he said.

“We want to see upland farm businesses like those here in Derbyshire thriving, but that is almost impossible if they are not being supported fairly for the work they do.

“We must remember that upland farms create and manage the landscapes found in much of the country’s most treasured areas, such as National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

“These deliver £1.7 billion to local economies through tourism.

“They are also part of the fabric of rural communities, saving homes from flooding, looking after miles of stone walls and hedges and producing nutritious and sustainable beef and lamb.

“Defra needs to urgently deliver support options that work for the wide range of upland farms across the country, reflecting the value they bring to our countryside.”

At the meeting sector board reports were heard and farmers were also elected to the NFU’s crops, livestock, dairy, horticulture boards and other groups where they could make a difference from the grassroots up.

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