Politicians have been urged to remember the importance of the cereals sector in the post-Brexit era.
Speaking at the Cereals Event today (June 12) as she launched the second year of the NFU’s Your Harvest campaign, NFU president Minette Batters highlighted the sector underpinned the rest of the industry.
She also urged arable farmers to engage with their MPs to showcase the contribution of arable farmers to the economy and the potential for the sector post-Brexit if the right policy was achieved.
But she was ‘bitterly disappointed’ Farming Minister Robert Goodwill had cancelled his appearance at the event, as farmers had questions they wanted to ask him about their future.
She added whatever happened in the Conservatives’ leadership contest there were still three ways the UK could go, either leave with a deal, without one or not at all.
“NFU will keep saying no-deal is catastrophic,” she said.
People kept asking whether she could be more optimistic about a no-deal, but she said there was a big difference between wanting Brexit to be over and inflicting ‘lifelong harm’.
She added crops was one of the only areas of farming to be given no tariff protection if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
AHDB chairman Sir Peter Kendall was also frustrated the Minister was not in attendance, highlighting he was likely in parliament to stop a motion to block a no-deal Brexit.
He said: “The cereals and poultry sectors would be really badly affected with no-deal."
He highlighted the continuing ‘madness’ in Westminster, as well as global issues affecting the farming industry including African Swine Fever and climate change which were impacting farmers.
He said the big question was around how farmers prepared their businesses for the changes to come.
“The biggest risk is to put on hold decision making to wait and see what happens to us," Sir Peter said.
Ms Batters said climate change was ‘the story of our time’ as the Government announced a push to be net carbon zero by 2050.
She said the NFU’s committed to net zero by 2040 had presented the industry as part of the solution.
“It has opened doors,” she said. “The Climate Change Committee has said come on in.”