In this blog post, Future Farmer Jessica Mackintosh – pictured below – reflects on the value of her visit to the National Farmers Union’s annual conference.
Having only recently joined Future Farmers of Yorkshire I was somewhat reluctant to apply for a sponsored place at this year’s NFU Conference. However, after a few wise words from a fellow Future Farmers member about the chance to hear from well-respected speakers from within the industry, and the opportunity to meet likeminded people, I filled out my application.
I grew up on our family farm east of Doncaster before heading to Harper Adams University to study Agri Business. A few years on, I now work for Cranswick Foods as their Agriculture Supply Chain Manager and maintain a keen interest in farming and rural matters.
Heading to Birmingham on the train were many others who were attending the conference and so conversations soon started about farming and the next couple of days at the NFU conference. Throughout both days there were debates, discussions and commodity breakout sessions covering a wide range of topics from animal health to combatting rural crime.
Minette Batters gave an inspiring opening address, laying down the challenge to government on protecting UK farming standards and using the once in a generation opportunity we have to shape the future of our industry for decades to come.
The session ‘How we are inspiring our nation’s schoolchildren’ was a personal highlight for me.
It was fantastic to see the work being done with the younger generation, putting children back in touch with where food comes from and conveying important messages through project-based approaches.
By focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, we can show a younger age group the opportunities that our industry has to offer.
After an informative and thought provoking first day, the annual dinner was held in the evening. This again provided another opportunity to network, meet new faces and catch up with old friends, many of whom I hadn’t seen since university.
Day two brought an early start and a political session with Defra Secretary George Eustice. It was great to hear from Mr Eustice that government has a clear manifesto commitment to increase flood funding and that they would be setting aside record amounts of money for flooding strategies in the next few years, especially after the winter we have just had.
Mr Eustice also discussed the new Environmental Land Management schemes (ELMs) and how they will work for the farmer, removing some of the administrative burden currently on farmers and having a more sensible, human-based approach. I am sure this will be good news for many!
Attending the conference has given me the chance to broaden my knowledge within the industry. It allowed me to further understand the challenges we face, whilst also hearing about the success coming from the hard work already put in by many.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the NFU and Future Farmers of Yorkshire, for not only for my place at the conference but also for the events they organise throughout the year. The events are informative and a great way to meet other forward-thinking members eager to expand their knowledge and excel in their careers.
Future Farmers of Yorkshire was launched in 2010 to bring together like-minded farmers, vets and industry professionals. It is supported by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society. Do keep in touch with Future Farmers during these uncertain times, we are here to help.