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From the editor: Farmers keen to kick on despite political indecision

Another conference, another lacklustre performance by Defra Secretary Andrew Leadsom. Even those farmers who were impressed with her delivery could not help but notice that she failed to provide any answers on important issues such as post-Brexit trade policy and Defra’s plans.

Another conference, another lacklustre performance by Defra Secretary Andrew Leadsom. Even those farmers who were impressed with her delivery could not help but notice that she failed to provide any answers on important issues such as post-Brexit trade policy and Defra’s plans.

 

Maybe the Government does not have a strategy in place yet, not only for agriculture but for all industrial sectors. And while some lay the blame at the door of Number 10 Downing Street for allegedly clamping down on the Defra Secretary and what she could and could not say, farmers have had enough.

 

Because, as the political and leadership vacuum intensifies, farm businesses face many of the same challenges they always have.

 

The view from many at the NFU conference in Birmingham was there was no going back on the Brexit decision, so now was the time to start planning ahead and making the most of the opportunities and challenges it presents, whether you wanted to stay in Europe or not.

 

The reality is that farm life goes on, whatever the political machinations of the time might be, and there is a hunger to learn more about controlling costs and managing tangible assets within businesses.

 

There is no point in the industry navel gazing and harking back to what could have been and what will be lost. We are facing an era in which the system of support could potentially change fundamentally post-2020 and farmers want to be ready for the challenge of operating outside of the EU.

 

Having confidence in the Defra Secretary and believing she is standing up for the needs of the industry would help confidence, but scores of farmers are now firmly focused on their business plans and ensuring they are as robust as possible whatever the outcome of the Brexit negotiations.

 

As many speakers alluded to, a positive attitude towards farming in the post-Brexit era might be one of the biggest assets of all.

 

And finally...

 

As NFU deputy president Minette Batters pointed out at conference, now is the time for farmers to engage with their communities and MPs about the importance of the industry. Nobody will promote agriculture for us, so speak up.

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