UK farming policy, access to trade and on-farm safety take the top spot in farm leaders’ wish lists for 2017.
In his New Year Message, NFU president Meurig Raymond said it would be fair to say 2016 had been a ‘tumultuous year’ for the industry, and the country.
He said the past year had been one of growing uncertainty, with the European referendum and the decision to leave the EU expected to be a ‘game changer’ for a future in British farming.
Looking ahead to 2017, Mr Raymond highlighted members’ hopes for a policy that allowed profitable, competitive and progressive farms, to make the case for farming to the Government, and to not ‘regret what might be lost’.
He added: “It would have been impossible for the Prime Minister, Defra and Government’s Brexit teams to ignore the largest-ever coalition of UK food producers led by the NFU and other UK farming unions.
“Together, we called for tariff-free access to the single market and continued access to a competent and reliable workforce.
“This is paramount for British food and farming to flourish, post-Brexit.”
On British farming, Mr Raymond added despite the uncertainty of Brexit, there continued to be a strong support but the industry should find further reasons to encourage the public to back British food.
“There is no doubt in my mind that 2017 will be an historic, unique opportunity to present a new deal for farming with Britain,” he said.
“We must aim to create a policy that delivers world-class farming that is supported by a world leading science base to ensure our post-Brexit future is profitable, competitive and productive for us all.”
UFU president Barclay Bell said his hopes surrounded ‘more pleasure’ and ‘a lot less financial pain’ for the upcoming year, despite the potential to face huge challenges.
He particularly highlighted the need for younger farmers to use their voice to help feed the debate, but said whatever the outcome, young people were considered an ‘opportunity’ to help create a ‘reinvigorated and vibrant’ farming policy for the UK.
He added the importance of farm safety: “One death on farm is one too many, so please take a minute before starting even jobs we all do every day and ask yourself a simple question - can I do this job in a safer way?
“I hope 2017 is a successful and productive year, and please don’t forget to stay FARM SAFE, because if we do not, all the other challenges we face pale into insignificance.”