‘Be pragmatic, sing from the rooftops and embrace change’ – Messages from our Breakfast Meeting

‘Brand Britain on agriculture’s global stage’ was the theme for our recent Future Farmers of Yorkshire Breakfast Meeting.

The annual event was held at the Great Yorkshire Show last month and featured an exciting high-profile panel who all offered up their own perspectives on what Brand Britain means and how it can be embraced in the future.

Breakfast panel

Breakfast panel (L-R): Janet Hughes, Emily Norton, Robbie Moore MP, Andrew Meredith and Nick Grayson.

More than 100 members came along for the meeting which was chaired by Future Farmers Vice Chair Nick Grayson and kindly sponsored by Northern Powergrid and the Yorkshire Agricultural Society.

If you didn’t manage to be there, here’s a short summary of some of the key points made by our speakers.

Andrew Meredith, Editor of Farmers Weekly said:

Brand Britain for me and the farming industry in the future is going to be about being really pragmatic. We know subsidy is going.

Everyone here knows they have to take stock of their business. They have to make some decisions about what they can do best, whether that’s having a chicken shed and producing for the lowest cost of production and being at the bottom end of the market, albeit with those high welfare standards, or whether it’s doing grass-fed beef or putting some of your land out of food production and doing something else.

Take stock of your system, decide where you are best at and then just go and do it.

Robbie Moore, MP for Keighley and Ilkley said:

For me it’s about putting our stake in the world about what we want from our domestic agriculture sector and how we promote that all-singing, all-dancing, to the world stage and it’s going to be challenging.

From an agricultural policy point of view, our sector is going through huge change, the biggest change we have experienced for many generations… (but) …we want to be ambitious. We want to put global Britain on the world stage…

Global Britain to me is about not being frightened about singing from the rooftops about our offering here but being acutely conscious that we absolutely need to protect our domestic agri-food sector here, and that comes down to compromise, balance and not being frightened for making change here in our domestic food sector.

Emily Norton, Head of Rural Research at Savills, said:

We need to stop treating the price of food to the consumer as a welfare policy and in order for people to therefore afford to buy Brand Britain, we need to start addressing some of those systemic issues around how consumers access better quality and healthier food.

The cheap food policy is built into the system and legitimized by our Competition and Markets Authority who only act in the best interests of the price of food to the consumer.

We need to start changing that and saying the environmental impact, the health impact of this stuff is equally as important.

Janet Hughes, Programme Director for Future Farming and Countryside at Defra, explained new agricultural policies that are being designed for the post-Brexit era.

Going on to address Brand Britain, Janet said:

 By doing three things – environment schemes to reward public goods, prosperity support and improving regulation and enforcement, what we want to achieve is a sector that is as vibrant, as competitive, able to compete on the world stage producing high quality goods and at the same time a much more sustainable and productive sector from an environmental perspective.

It’s a tricky thing to pull off, we know. It’s a massive change, the biggest change we have made for decades and that’s why we are taking a co-design approach, a test and learn approach (to new agricultural policies).

YASNorthern Powergrid

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