I would like to start by saying thank you to the Future Farmers of Yorkshire and NFU Northeast. For giving me the opportunity to attend the NFU Conference in Birmingham in February and to Allie Hesketh for being an excellent host over the two days. The NFU is an organisation I have known about since a young age but never completely understood. The conference was an excellent chance to find out. It is fantastic to see how much work they put into lobbying for farmers; by getting the government to understand the true needs of the industry, helping to produce legislation that is fit for purpose and opening up new markets for the products and bi-products of UK agriculture.
The NFU Conference
The conference started with the initial registration where I met Allie and Bradley. This followed with a bacon sandwich and a cup of tea. In the main conference hall it was surprising to find that delegates were sat in areas. As a member of both Yorkshire and Northern Area Young Farmers for many years as well as being a grain rep in Yorkshire and the North East for four years there were many familiar faces in the North East delegates seating area and so it was good to catch up with old friends again.
The conference started with the opening speech from Minette Batters. Followed by the politics session with Michael Gove. It was quite clear to see what a massive amount of time has been spent on Brexit negotiations over the last few years. It was no surprise that many farmers are still feeling frustrated over the number of questions that still remain unanswered. The next session focused on the future of food and changing eating habits; veganism and flexitarianism may be all the rage at the minute but we must try and see this as an opportunity. Not a threat and look at how we could possibly take advantage of these new consumer trends. There is also an ever-increasing global population. As a result demand for food will never be higher than over the next 20 years. We must look at how we can produce more food without compromising standards. In Britain we have some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world and we must not forget this; we need to shout about it at every opportunity.
The highlight of the conference for me was the dinner in the evening for both the food and the social. I have never tasted such a succulent piece of rump steak in my life. A credit to the chefs at the conference centre who turned out nearly a thousand of these in a short space of time! At so many events for farmers I have been served up what seems to be a piece of old cull cow. Making a refreshing change to be served top quality British produce at an event where we were promoting just that. The evening also provided an excellent chance to get to know the other future farmers and the free table wine helped the conversation flow! The other Future Farmers were all very interesting and inspiring to talk to. They were driven, ambitious and passionate about agriculture. There was a funny moment in the evening however when we all revealed that we’d had exactly the same thought; we must have won a place at the conference because we must have been the only person who entered!!!!!
I love attending things like the NFU Conference because of the people you meet there. Intelligent, forward-thinking people and I love chatting to them about what they do and what their ambitions are for the future. I heard somebody recently say that you need to surround yourself by people you aspire to be like and I always come away from these events with a new-found enthusiasm; it always puts the fire back in my belly. To anyone else who gets the chance to attend, it is a great place to meet people, make sure you take the opportunity to chat to as many people as possible. You will learn a lot and despite some of the debates being fairly lengthy there is plenty of time to relax and have fun!
By Natalie Moore