INSIDE HORSEMEAT QUIZZING TESCO SECTOR FOCUS SOCIAL MEDIA NEXT GENERATION #SOSDAIRY
CAP R E FOR M
COALITION RED TAPE IMPORTS
FARMING DELIVERS IN UNCERTAIN TIMES
STATE OF THE FARMING NATION ----------------Call for shorter supply chains tops the agenda Welcome to your BF&G Conference Special! This is a one-off magazine produced live at NFU Conference in Birmingham and sent to all members of the NFU in England and Wales to show you who said what, why they said it and the implications of their actions. Inside this edition you can read all about what Peter Kendall had to say in his stateof-the-farming-nation address, how Philip Clarke dealt with the horsemeat scandal and what the outlook of the economy looks like for farming. This doesn’t replace your monthly dose of British Farmer and Grower or Farming Wales – it’s a free addition – which we hope you enjoy.
FU President Peter Kendall opened the 2013 conference with a plea for ‘longer-term thinking and shorter supply chains’. speaking at the international Conference Centre in Birmingham, Mr Kendall said that the recent horsemeat scandal had shown that the ‘great British consumer’ wanted their food to be produced as close to home as possible. He underlined three important lessons that have emerged from the scandal so far. “First, we’ve learnt that it’s nonsense when retailers claim they can sell eight beef burgers for a pound and maintain complete transparency about what’s in their products and where it comes from.” Also, that the longer the supply chain was and the more borders it crosses the less traceable food is and the more open it is to negligence and abuse. And finally, that consumers want British food produced ‘with passion’ by British farmers. He asked consumers to be more demanding, – of where their food comes form, how it is produced and what goes in to it. Mr Kendall said that standing still on production was not an option when the Office of national statistics predicted that within eight years the population of england will have increased by 4.5 million people. But that this was a huge opportunity for farmers. to take advantage of this he called upon the secretary of state for Agriculture Owen Paterson to fight for a fair deal for farmers in the CAP negotiations. He said that the nFU has never argued for a bigger CAP budget, but that British farmers were not disadvantaged compared to their eU counterparts. “Let me be really blunt and to the point. i’m worried that this is exactly what will happen, on both accounts, as a result of this government’s stance on CAP reform.” He spoke about defra’s apparent support for coupled payments for the scots after previously opposing them at every opportunity. Mr Kendall told Mr Paterson that a hatred of modulation was the one factor that united every farmer in the country.
We now need supermarkets to stop scouring the world for the cheapest products they can find “defra has negotiated the right to cut english farmers’ payments by up to 15 per cent. that’s intolerable to us in the nFU and our farming partners. “i know when i am out doing meetings and i explain what’s going on farmers are saying to me ‘who’s batting for us in this CAP negotiation?’ “When you look at 3,000 farmers turning out for the #sOsdairy campaign in Westminster last June to fight what they saw was an injustice of a price cut, just wait to see the strength of feeling you’ll see amongst farmers if they try to modulate one part of the UK out of all proportion to the rest,” Mr Kendall added to applause from the delegates.
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OWEN PATERSON ----------------Badger culls will go ahead this summer and the horsemeat saga
WEN PATERSON reaffirmed his commitment to the badger cull by reassuring conference delegates that two pilots will go ahead this summer. The Defra Secretary of State announced that authorisation letters have been issued by Natural England confirming the culls can proceed in West Gloucestershire and West Somerset. A reserve pilot area is also being prepared in Dorset as a safeguard to ensure there are no delays to the cull proceeding this year. “I am determined that there are no further delays. That is why we have taken the sensible step with the farming industry to elect a reserve area that can be called upon should anything happen to prevent culling in Somerset or Gloucestershire,” he said. “These pilot culls are just one part of our approach to control and eradicate this dreadful disease. We are using everything at our disposal to get to grips with TB including new tougher controls on moving cattle, increased herd testing and working to get effective vaccines ready as soon as possible.” The authorisation letters issued by Natural England mean that culling will be
able to proceed at any point from 1 June. The pilot culls will last for six weeks and will be repeated annually for four years. Despite the difficult past year experienced by farmers, Mr Paterson said he is convinced British farming has ‘much to be positive about’. “We must ensure that the British public have confidence in the food they are eating,” he added. “The substitution of beef with horsemeat in a number of products has shaken consumer confidence. It’s totally unacceptable that anyone should buy something labelled beef and end up with horsemeat. That is fraud.” The Defra Secretary said he is
determined that such criminal activity is stopped and that anyone who has defrauded the customer must ‘feel the full force of the law’. He added that championing British food abroad and ensuring the UK has access to overseas markets is a priority. “There are some great examples of new markets the government has worked hard to open up,” he added. Giving farmers access to all the tools needed to produce food as efficiently and sustainably as possible is also key – which includes GM. “That’s why we need to make the case for GM to the public, with a balanced understanding of the risks and benefits,” he said.
STILL MUCH TO DO TO CUT FARMING RED TAPE Macdonald urges change of culture within government
NE YEAR after a taskforce identified more than 200 ways in which government could reduce bureaucracy in farming, there is a still long way to go. That’s according to Richard Macdonald who said that after a ‘full and frank’ review, there were a number of key steps that needed to be taken for farmers to notice a real difference. “We’ve got to turn intention into action,” he said. The taskforce looked at how to reduce the farm inspection burden, how animal movement restrictions could be simplified and how farmers could ‘earn recognition’.
Mr Macdonald said a ‘culture change’ within Defra would help many new staff understand the complex world of farming. “There’s a lot more we can achieve on inspections,” he added, “there are a lot of inspections that we have to do but others that can be streamlined.” Farming Minister David Heath said that farmers wouldn’t always notice if they had one fewer form to fill in and that reducing the red tape burden wasn’t always as visible as he would like. You can read the full report on the Defra website.
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HE NFU, CLA and TFA have joined forces to launch a joint position statement on proposals for the greening of the CAP. The ‘Fair Deal for English Farmers’ sets out proposals the three organisations would like Defra to adopt when designing the delivery of greening at an English level. NFU President Peter Kendall said the government needs to help farmers produce more food, not hinder. “It’s a really important message to government, not just Defra - British farmers want to be treated fairly because we want to produce more and contribute to the economy,” he added. CLA president Harry Cotterell said despite disagreements in the past, the three organisations stand firm behind the list of proposals. And Jeremy Walker from the TFA agreed, stating that pillar one is important for tenant farmers, who are increasingly being demanded higher rents.“Greening is great - if you can afford it,” he said. Fair Deal for English Farmers is made up of seven proposals, the first being that English farmers, like the rest of Europe, must have a choice of greening options, including access to all the applicable categories deemed ‘green by definition’ which grant farmers automatic entitlement to the
FARMERS FIGHT FOR FAIR DEAL ----------------United front on CAP reform greening aid envisaged within the reform package. Greening should not impose higher standards or compliance costs on English farmers than those in other UK regions or EU member states, and it should be implemented in a way that does not require land to be taken out of production. Introducing a greening element into
pillar one removes the need to switch funds from pillar one to pillar two. The three organisations oppose modulation. Other points include allowing farmers to opt out of participation in specific greening measures and consequently forego the 30 per cent of the new payment envisaged for greening within the new pillar one framework but without further penalty.
REPRESENTATION IN EUROPE COPA president echoes calls from UK farming
N A MISSION statement that mirrored many of the NFU’s campaigning calls on CAP, the president of the European farmers union drove home the need for a fair and practical reform. Gerd Sonnleiter spoke of the need for an effective and practical CAP that worked as well in the UK as it did in any other country in the EU. He echoed the need for land to remain in production, not to be removed. “We want a modern, dynamic agriculture that delivers for farmers and the consumer,” he said. “Our main concern in COPA is the economic position of farming. They can’t provide for the population if they don’t have confidence.” Mr Sonnleiter presides over the union that represents all of the European farming unions and he said that he was pleased
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that an EU budget had been agreed, adding that the CAP – now more than 40-years-old – had proven to work. But while that unified approach has worked well as a lobbying platform, individual countries should be allowed flexibility to implement the CAP in a way that allows each country to compete. “It makes no sense to apply the same rules to all farms throughout Europe,” he said. “We have been working hard with ministers to get a CAP that’s practical and effective and we hope to reach agreement by the end of June.” Mr Sonnleiter added that Peter Kendall had made a big difference in Europe with his lobbying on the European food chain. He also showed his anger at the horsemeat scandal: “It’s unfortunate that the market is undermined by actions taken higher up the food chain. This is unacceptable.”
HORSEMEAT SCANDAL ----------------Philip Clarke reveals ‘radical changes’ are in store
esCo Chief Philip Clarke chose to announce ‘the most radical change between a retailer and producers that has been attempted,’ at NfU conference. in the wake of the horsemeat scandal, Mr Clarke announced a series of measures designed to create a supply chain customers can have complete confidence in. “Not since Bse has the meat processing industry been under such scrutiny,” he said. “The events of the past six weeks have shocked the whole country. Customers don’t like what they’ve been hearing about how some of the meat they put on their plates is produced.” he pledged that ‘where it is reasonable to do so’ Tesco will source from British producers. from July, all fresh chickens will come exclusively from UK farms and the supermarket will ensure, over time, that all chicken, in all products, is British. “These commitments represent a genuine shift in how Tesco sources the products we sell,” he said. “But we cannot do this without you. “And so this needs to be a true and sustainable partnership, one built on mutual trust and understanding, one in which both parties can prosper and make a fair profit.” Transparency in the supply chain is a key concern, and therefore Tesco will undertake a ‘root and branch review’. “i am in no doubt that we will find things we don’t like,” he commented. “But when we find them, we will change them.” The supermarket giant will also extend the reach of its existing Tesco sustainable farming Groups to cover all proteins and potentially fruits, vegetables and salads. A new tesco agriculture director will lead the development of these groups and provide a single point of contact for the farming industry. An ‘unprecedented’ DNA testing programme on all batches of processed beef entering the supply chain will be implemented and an independent panel of experts will give guidance on improving the way the supply chain works in practice. he admitted that Tesco haven’t always approached relationships with producers ‘in the true spirit of partnership’ but that he is determined to change that for the better. “The commitments i have made today are genuine, and i expect to be held to account on them,” he said. “i expect you to test us and i expect you to tell us if we’re not delivering.”
Q&A Quizzing Tesco’s boss As a result of horsegate there is potential for more testing of meat in the supply chain – will this cost fall back to the farmer? We have got to avoid that and customers don’t want to pay for it either. There is space for everyone in the supply chain to make a profit. At Tesco we are committed to British meat.
Why did it take so long for a comment to be made by the supply chain about horsemeat? There was a pause between the results and comment and rightly so. Comment was made at the earliest opportunity once results were analysed.
Are the commitments you have made to British meat include lamb? Will Welsh lamb be on the shelves 12 months of the year from now on? We have started with the commitment we have made for chicken. With your help we will move forward and make further commitments. We will accept nothing but the highest standards in our supply chain.
There have been continued discounting and special offers made in supermarkets. Are you committed to paying a fair price going forward? Prices have become more and more important. If one part of the chain does not make a margin then it will break. Retailing is not just about price. Working together we can make sure more is British. This will take time but I am going to do it. Today we commit to a change.
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COMMODITY BREAKOUT SESSIONS ----------------Producer organisations confirmed and the future of beet quotas
PPLICATIONS FOR DAIRY farmers to become producer organisations will be taken from April, David Heath has announced. “That means POs will be able to negotiate contracts with buyers and I think that people will follow this route,” he told a packed room of dairy farmers. The move completes an incredible year for the sector which, as the dairy board chairman Mansel Raymond outlined to the breakout session. It was the incredible summer that started what could be a defining 12 months as more than 3,500 farmers went to London to protest at a double price cut from some of the country’s biggest dairy customers. The media coverage associated with the #sosdairy campaign was valued at £4million and the pressure put on retailers saw some of the price cuts rescinded. The shockwaves caused by the campaign also kick-started the full implementation of the voluntary code of practice which Dairy Crest, Arla, Muller Wiseman, First Milk and Lye Cross Farms had fully committed to at the time of writing. “Let’s get this job done,” Mr Raymond said, adding that the NFU would be pushing for all milk buyers to be signed up to the code by the end of March.
The NFU’s chief dairy adviser Rob Newbery said the NFU was now taking the lead with a full dairy strategy being created.“We know the global dairy market is growing and the UK needs to keep pace with that,” he said, adding that the NFU will be having meetings with NGOs, milk buyers and retailers. “This isn’t about the NFU telling the industry what to do,” he said. “It’s about growth and we’ll be working with DairyCo to put this strategy together and we’ll be launching it on 3 July. We want this to represent the whole industry so please get involved.”
HE NFU’S sugar board chairman urged growers to lobby hard for the extension of the sugar regime past 2015 as part of the discussions in the breakout session. SUGAR William Martin said that the question of when the sugar aspects of the Common Market Organisation will be abolished still hangs in the air, but it could potentially be extended until 2020. “Even in this late stage, we should not be complacent - it is worthwhile to lobby and do it with enthusiasm,” he said. He told growers that the UK industry can be globally
David Heath added that he was firmly behind the voluntary code. “It’s about sharing risk and trust down the DAIRY supply chain – that includes producers, processors, retailer and consumers.” Mr Heath added that after the negotiations being made on the EU dairy package and that applications for dairy producer organisations would be taken as soon as 1 April for producers who wanted to go down that route.
competitive, but we need time and stability to be able to get to this stage following the significant upheaval of the industry from the recent regulatory driven reforms of the sector. The other element to the reform proposals which are of serious concern to sugar beet farmers is the threat of weakening their right to collective negotiation. This provides an important balance which is paramount to ensure growers are not in a significantly disadvantaged in the supply chain. “We need to maintain the pressure on MPs, MEPs, Defra etc. to ensure their active support for the growers’ right of collective negotiation and for this to continue while there is a single processor to which growers sell their crops. We question why these provisions would be weakened when at the same time in other sectors they are trying to restore balance where it does not exist?”
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T WAS a record turnout and a new format for the horticulture workshop. Taking HORTICULTURE inspiration from BBC’s Question Time, the panel of specialist growers looked at how the sector could manage its future. The session was enhanced by attendance of retailer representatives from Waitrose and Sainsbury’s plus MEP Anthea McIntyre, who has recently worked with NFU soft fruit grower Anthony Snell on the future of SAWS. Questions asked included those of fair value in the supply chain, how risk and reward balance could be improved and what was the identity of the Red Tractor is? And there were some raw truths exposed about the myths and reality of peat use, bee health and neonicotinoids by Dr Chris Hartfield. The NFU’s chief horticulture and potatoes adviser, Hayley CampbellGibbons, said that inputs costs carried over from last year now cause real concern. She said: “With the attractiveness of alternatives, such as wheat or oil seed rape, there’s a real risk that unless the economics of the horticulture sector improve, growers will choose to do other things. “The latest Defra figures show that 61 per cent of growers made less than £30k in the past two years. This is why we launched Catalyst for Change. Strong supply chain partnerships have been advocated, not just by the NFU. Operating outside this relationship leaves businesses open to volatility. Retailers and processors need to step up and play their part.
Signing up to the NFU’s Fruit and Veg Pledge is the right way to start.” The future of SAWS was at the top of the agenda. The NFU’s annual labour survey will be published next month, but headline figures show that out of 206 growers questioned, every three and a half seasonal workers supports one full time UK permanent job. Ninety-five per cent said if the scheme ended it would have a negative impact on their businesses. A decision on SAWS will be taken by government in the spring. NFU board chairman and brassica grower from Lincolnshire Sarah Dawson said: ”We’ve set out an ambitious agenda for growth because we can see the huge potential there is to increase home
HE LIVESTOCK SESSION covered a multitude of issues, revealing just how tumultuous a year the sector has experienced. Livestock board chairman LIVESTOCK Charles Sercombe said the past 12 months have seen record prices for beef, whereas lamb is now well below the cost of production. “We have raised this concern with all the major retailers,” he said. “This is a Europe wide issue and we’ve called for an EU sheep summit in early March to work closely with
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production and displace imports.” Paul Simmonds, who runs the UK’s largest single site glasshouse in Norfolk, said: “There’s confusion over whether the Red Tractor stands for provenance, assurance or both!” The role of social media in educating consumers wasn’t ignored. Alison Capper said: “Social media has a huge role to play and there are benefits for farmers as long as what’s said is accurate. All farmers should tweet and use Facebook photos to show consumers what it’s all about, bringing our produce to life.” Sarah Dawson summarised: “We can be proud that the produce grown in this country is the best in the world. It’s traceable, robust, integral and British.”
farmers across Europe.” Mr Sercombe called for greater promotion of lamb throughout Europe and a re-examination of the New Zealand import quota to address the impact of cheap imports on European markets. Regulation continues to be a problem for the sector, with the lack of progress on livestock movement simplification and the sheep database tender proving a particular issue. “Like everyone else, I was dismayed the process has needed to be re-run, especially as I believe it is essential that a more modern, efficient and effective system is put in place to record sheep movements. “Any changes must cost farmers no more than at present to report movements and we expect government to continue to cover the statutory costs indefinitely.”
he poultry breakout session heard that the latest UK chick placings figures are at their highest level for the last two decades at just under 35m birds. NFU chief poultry adviser Kelly Watson told the group that 2012 has highlighted how difficult it was for increased production costs to be passed on to end customers in a very competitive market place with companies battling to maintain market share. She said integration makes sense when there is enough margin for everyone but that volume sales do not mean profit in a rising costs scenario. Chief economist Phil Bicknell outlined the global economic situation and the effect the US drought has had in pushing up grain prices. He predicted that cereal prices would remain high while there was still uncertainty in terms of spring plantings and global commodity prices would ultimately be driven by global weather events. Consumption of poultry meat in the UK has increased during the economic downturn with savy shoppers choosing it for its versatility and affordability. POULTRY Mr Bicknell said the weaker pound was helping exports but also meant energy prices would be higher. The subject of sourcing non-GM soya for poultry rations was discussed with industry representatives reporting that in their routine mill PCR testing they were finding higher instances of GM grains contaminating non-GM grain loads. In 2010/11 37 per cent of cargoes showed a contamination level of more than 0.1 per cent. In 2012 that figure had shot up to 85 per cent of loads with 40 per cent of samples showing contamination of more than 0.9 per cent. It was not unheard of to have up to 40 per cent contamination in some loads. Meaning that not only is sourcing non-GM soya becoming increasingly difficult pushing premiums up to over £100 per tonne, but its integrity is also compromised.
he technology to produce more with less could already be in the field but only if understanding at farm level and engineering play catch-up, an NFU crops breakout session heard. CROPS NFU Crops Development Programme member Tom Paybody told delegates there was ‘serious potential’ in the precision farming techniques he saw in his day job with Co-operative Farms, from inch-accurate GPS steering and auto shut-offs on sprayers to yield mapping by satellite, or even by drone aeroplane, direct-injection sprayers and nitrogen sensors. But there was work to be done to overcome a lack of knowledge transfer from the scientists in the lab to those on the farm. The experts need to ‘get their wellies dirty’, said Mr Paybody. He added: “We’re generating lots of information, but my concern is ‘are we using it properly’? If we don’t know the full picture and we use precision farming technology, we are in danger of trying to fine tune before we have the basics in place.” Elsewhere he identified technologies where ‘we’ve got the software, but the hardware is not quite up to spec yet’. The Cambridgeshire farm manager added that changes in public and governmental perception would also be crucial. He said: “We need breeding and genomics to produce more with less, whether it be to increase water efficiency or pest resistance, and whether it’s GM or not. “But ‘science’ in farming has sometimes become a dirty word from the consumer point of view and unfortunately this can follow through to legislators. “We are a highly technological and innovative industry and we need to get that across to the public. “When we do events like Open Farm Sunday people are hugely impressed at what we are doing - and we need them with us if we are going to have all the tools that our global competitors are going to have.”
On animal health and welfare, Mr Sercombe recognised the massive importance to the industry in dealing with bovine TB but added that other endemic diseases must not play secondfiddle, and that BVD and sheep scab were key areas which need coordinated action. “But these are the tip of the iceberg and I’m sure we will have to address many more endemic diseases as we protect our livestock and the image of the industry. It will be essential that farmers, the government, industry organisations, along with the wider supply chain, join together to address these challenges.” Mr Sercombe finished by issuing a rallying cry for the whole industry to stand together to address all the challenges facing the sector.
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CAP ShOUld CONSIdER fUTURE gENERATIONS ----------------ensuring the voice of young farmers is heard
he next CAP should take into consideration future generations of farmers to ensure the long-term security of the industry, said the chairman of the nFU next Generation Policy Forum. William Lawrence said: “the next Generation Policy Forum is determined to make sure that future generations of farmers have their voices heard during the CAP negotiations. “We believe pillar two should be used more effectively encouraging young skilled farmers in the hope that they will be less dependent on public support. to that end the nGPF support the idea of a young entrant scheme.” this would group the relevant measures already in the rural development regulation with some new ideas to improve transparency and allow young farmers access to funding. “With leaked figures of the new CAP budget showing that UK will see a 22 per cent reduction for rural development, it is crucial to make the most out of the scarce financial resources available. the aim of
the scheme is to support viable and profitable businesses that will play a crucial role in the future of UK agriculture.” But the industry needs to help itself more, especially with regards to its ‘chronic problem’ with succession. “We have decided to tackle this complicated issue because farming has an ageing population, and there is a clear need for restructuring of the industry to allow some to retire and others to take up the reins. the individual complexities of each situation mean that there is no one size fits all solution.” he added that the Forum would like Defra to create special advice on retirement and succession as a distinct component within the advisory services under the Rural Development Programme. “this service would guide farmers to pass their activity to the next generation and would fit and complete the Forum’s idea of a Young entrant Scheme in the second pillar,” he concluded.
CAP STATE OF PLAY Putting meat on the bones
AIL SOUTAR told delegates that unofficial, leaked data doing the rounds in Brussels had allowed NFU experts to put the possible impact on pillar one direct payments into numbers. “The team estimates that the pot of money available will be cut by 10 per cent in real terms,” said the NFU’s CAP expert, adding that this would leave UK farmers below the EU average and behind key rivals. She added that the cut to ‘pillar two’ funds (agri-environment and rural development) could be 22 per cent on the 2013 budget, putting the UK at the very bottom of the EU pile. “Did the UK go looking for a fair allocation or did it focus its whole strategy on being able to move money from from pillar one to two?” she said. For the NFU, the leeway for member states to make such a move – to the tune of 15 per cent of the single farm payment funding – is without justification, especially in light of controversial plans for the greening of pillar one. Discussion of that element of the proposals brought brighter news in the shape of ‘significant changes’ to the original Commission plans from MEPs, particularly an exemption from the arable greening measures for those with 75 per cent or more permanent pasture. But real concerns remain, said Ms Soutar, particularly noises from Defra that implementation might take the shape of a single delivery method ‘similar to ELS’ – which could deprive English farmers of options open to their rivals and impose more onerous standards. Defra CAP strategist Martin Nesbitt said a final agreement in June will be reliant on the European Parliament formally adopting its CAP reform position next month. There was a ‘big question mark’ on that timeframe but member states would have 18 months to implement plans.
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UPLANDS REPORT ----------------Keeping livestocK on the hills is key to maintaining the character of the upland areas of england and Wales, the nFU said. A new report entitled Farming Delivers for the Hills and Uplands, launched at the conference, set out how sheep and cattle has shaped this country’s iconic landscapes and communities. the report was backed up by a policy document outlining nFU commitment to the uplands and the priority areas of: cAp, climate change, and relationships with agricultural shareholders. nFU hill and upland chairman, Robin Milton, said: “there has been a lot of uncertainty facing hill farmers over the past 12 months.” FOR THE HILLS AND UPLANDS
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oWen pAteRson has urged the eU Health commissioner not to rush into a decision on the use of neonicitinoids. the Defra secretary wants a decision to be based on data gathered in a field, not in a laboratory. “We are assessing field data using real bees, real fields and real conditions and i hope there will be no rushed decision before our field data is published. “We’ve always got to look at the impact of a very significant reduction in yields and the dangers of a fall back on older pesticides developed in the 60s and 70s.”
tHe session entitled Farming Delivers for the consumer was unsurprisingly dominated by the ongoing horsemeat scandal. Kate Jones, head of co-operative Farms admitted the company had let down both farmers and customers. to make amends, the organisation has committed to stringent DnA testing. “Britishness delivers for worried consumers,” she said. “Higher welfare and value for money are key for our customers. We are confident that British farming delivers.” shadow Food and Farming Minister, Huw irranca Davies, said labour will seek views on food policy in the next few months and urged farmers to take part. “the holy grail of food production can be summed up in three parts. it must be affordable, with wider environmental and social benefits and food security. the best of British produce can help feed domestic and international demand.”
CBI director general
IGD chief executive
OHN CRIDLAND CBE said he sees ‘signs of progress’ in the economy, despite continuing volatility. The Director General of CBI said the economy has felt tough since 2008 because it is tough. “Tough has become the new normal,” he added. “Rebalancing the economy from debt to investment is like detox.” However, he sees signs of progress and believes that although the government is taking action, there is more it could do. Mr Cridland suggested three actions the Chancellor should take moving forwards. The first is to stick to the plan of paying off the deficit as there is no practical alternative. “You need to give real signals to consumers and businesses that boost confidence – because at the moment confidence is key,” he added. And finally, he suggested transferring more current spending to capital spending. “Consumers need you,” he told the packed room of farmers. “You were never more needed. But at the time you’ve never been more needed, you’ve ever been less trusted. “If you want to be trusted we have to ensure the core thing we do is deliver for our consumers and our communities.”
HE HORSEMEAT scandal has been devastating for the food industry but it could also present an opportunity for farmers, according to IGD chief executive Joanne Denney-Finch. “As an industry we are judged by our lowest common denominator and millions of people feel let down by their food,” she said. But this difficulty could be turned into a great opportunity. Ms Denney-Finch told delegates that the UK has one of the most rigorous food testing regimes in the world which uncovered the recent scandal and our response to it has been swift and decisive. She said that consumers’ faith in their food has been dented but farmers are still one of the most trusted professions in the country and farming has a good story to tell to shoppers. She urged farmers to speak out about their work but warned people not to point the finger of blame for the horsemeat scandal before all the evidence is in. “We know that trust can be lost in an instant. It’s closely linked with other words like ‘expectation’, ‘guarantee’, ‘dependence’, ‘reliability’, ‘assurance’ and ‘integrity’ – all words to describe the bedrock of any good business.”
CAP STATE OF PLAY Putting meat on the bones
IVESTOCK FARMERS were told that Schmallenberg is a young disease and we are are still learning about it. Defra’s deputy chief veterinary officer, Alick Simmons, said that signs of infection, if not the actual disease, have been traced in every rural county in England and there are indications that it has been found in Cumbria and Scotland. The Veterinary Medicines Directorate has taken the unprecedented step of revealing an approach by a manufacturer for a veterinary medicine marketing authorisation for a potential vaccine. Reports from Europe show that farms that were infected last year were not hit this year, which suggests natural immunity
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could afford some protection. At this stage it is not clear how strong this immunity is or how long it lasts. But Mr Simmons said that ewes that were exposed to Schmallenberg last July should be ‘solidly immune’ before going to the tup. NFU Vice President Adam Quinney told people to report any incidences of the disease to their vets to keep up the pressure on pharmaceutical firms to develop a vaccine. On TB, Michael Seals of the Animal Health and Welfare Board said that there is no magic bullet for its eradication. One delegate raised the issue of the 30,000 alpacas in this country which are not subject to testing or movement restrictions.
Lee McDonagh of Defra said that camelids were considered an ‘overspill’ species that could contract TB from other species but only gave it to other alpacas. The subject of sheep scab was raised with one farmer saying that there was a stigma in admitting that your sheep were infected. But that effective treatment was not possible unless there are movement restrictions and blanket treatment of livestock. Mr Seals said: “You are not a bad farmer if you get sheep scab but you are a bad farmer if you don’t treat it.” Clive Davis of Worcestershire called for a national database to make the industry more efficient and to share information.
SOCIAL MEDIA ----------------with Jez Fredenburgh
y 11am on day one #NFU13 was ‘trending’ as the most used hashtag on Twitter in the UK, and by midday it was trending as the top Twitter hashtag in the world. In its first 24 hours, the hashtag was tweeted nearly 15,000 times, by over 5,200 users, reaching an audience of 1.8m on the social networking site. attempts by anti-cull protestors to ‘sabotage’ the hashtag failed as its use continued to soar over the second day, with an added 2,000 people tweeting an extra 5,500 tweets. Building on the growth of the agricultural community on social media, delegates and press used the hashtag to break news, tweet photos and videos, and update those unable to attend. Farmers, consumers and others in the industry used it to communicate with those at conference and input their thoughts, journalists used it to arrange interviews with delegates, and delegates used it to find each other and meet people in person for the first time. a key moment on the first day came during Tesco CEO Philip Clarke’s speech, when a flurry of tweets occurred as delegates and press rushed to break the news about his promise of two year contracts for UK suppliers. Within five minutes, two hundred tweets had been sent, and his speech overall created the biggest spike in Twitter activity all day. The increasing importance of social media was reflected in the conference agenda, with the NFU staging it’s first ever social media workshop on the second day. Delegates were told how they could benefit from using Twitter. Not only does the site allow users to chat with other farmers, it could also serve as a powerful tool for promoting businesses and allows users to keep up to date with organisations such as the NFU and their campaigns.
BF&G CONFERENCE SPECIAL
GREEN ENERGY SECTOR SET TO CONTINUE ITS GROWTH ----------------Farmers given update on solar, the RHI and grid connection
OLAR POWER is still a great opportunity for farmers and can get you returns of up to £850 an acre if the site is right. That’s according to Jonathan Selwyn from Lark Energy who said that the UK is now a ‘significant player’ in the world solar market. But he urged caution that farmers should chose the right location for PV installations, be it ground or roof mounted. His company is in the process of building 30MW solar farms in Leicestershire and Suffolk but has had problems with applications where neighbours have made objections. “It’s a good time to look at solar but do your homework,” he said. “There is overwhelming support for solar and the UK is now a major player.”
SOLAR Opportunities are great but the location of your installation is key to the success of the application.
Germany leads the way in Europe with a capacity approching 35GW already installed. When the sun shines, up to 25 per cent of the country’s electricity is produced from PV panels. Mr Selwyn said that one of the big issues facing the solar industry in the next 12 months would be scaremongering in national newspapers. “It’s about location,” he said. “We are hearing about quite a few rejections and that’s to do with choosing the right location.” On renewable heat, Chris Miles from British Gas said that the company had installed 20MW of renewable heat systems in 2012. He added at unlike solar, the renewable heat incentive would grow more slowly and was less likely to have a
boom, bust and boom trajectory. “DECC forecasts that 12 per cent of the £33bn annual heat market will be from renewable sources by 2020,” he said. “The big issue will be a long-term commitment from government.” Olivia Powis from OFGEM said that the regulator was working with distribution network operators (DNOs) to improve the process for farmers want to connect to the grid. She said that OFGEM was pushing for a guaranteed standard of performance, a better application process and improvements in customer service from the DNOs. “If you’re having a problem with your DNO then find out who it is and come to us,” she said.
It’s been a slow start but expect steady growth in the future, not like the rollercoaster ride of solar.
DNOs and farmers are not used to working together so OFGEM is working to improve the interaction between the two parties.
BF&G CONFERENCE SPECIAL
PHOTOBOOK Headlines President Peter Kendall being interviewed for Sky News - just one of the news outlets covering the conference
Shropshire Petals Merchandise
Michael and Rose Bubb from Shropshire Petals provided the beautiful table decorations
For the first time at an NFU Conference, delegates could purchase NFU merchandise
Farm Energy Service Members could learn more about the NFU Farm Energy Service
Farming Delivers Johnny Ball unveiled the new wrap for the Farming Delivers roadshow
NFU Countryside had a stand to showcase the work it does to campaign for the NFU. As a special conference offer, NFU members can sign up for six free copies of the Countryside magazine to get a taste of what we do. For full details and to sign up contact 0870 840 2030.
BF&G CONFERENCE SPECIAL
MATTHEW NAYLOR ----------------The view from the floor
he build up to the NFu’s 2013 conference went magnificently well. News coverage in the morning was so extensive that it was featured on every broadcast medium from bbC1 to 5 live. Peter Kendall’s place on this year’s Strictly Come dancing is surely in the bag. in the light of horsegate, Red Tractor producers are currently the heroes of the high street. There were a few protestors outside who hadn’t received this particular memo but, badger chants aside, the conference definitely started on the front hoof. Peter Kendall’s address made the most of the situation. he stressed the need for fairer supply chains, for stronger support for home production and for equal CAP payments across the eu. it all sounded so reasonable that he sounded more like the voice of reason than the head of a lobbying organisation. There were no surprises in Owen Paterson’s address. he didn’t dodge bullets about GM or the badger cull. he talked about the pilot cull with such boldness, in fact, that one feared for his safety getting back to his ministerial car. eagle-eyed delegates would have spotted that he was wearing a mysterious green charity wristband. it was hard to read the inscription but one observer thought it said ‘Jesus loves GM potatoes’. The talking point of the day was the paper delivered by Tesco’s Philip Clarke. Short of wearing a hair shirt, eating a plate of humble-flavoured ‘meat’ pie he couldn’t have given a more contrite performance. My mind kept recalling the footage of Saddam hussein when he was captured by the allied forces; this too being a memorable image of a powerful and much-feared figure climbing out of a hole someone had dug for him. in the face of this, the questions for Mr Clarke from farmers on the floor displayed unseemly hostility. Thankfully Meurig Raymond chaired the session with his characteristic calm, courtesy and good grace. The industry had been let down but uncle Meurig resisted the urge to go for cheap point scoring. The conference set the tone for a new farming era. After a year from hell, there are plenty of farmers who need good news. Farming will always involve taking gambles but the conference signalled that the industry is finally holding a strong hand of cards.
THANKS TO OUR SPONSORS
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Woodland Trust Growhow Vion Food Group RPA NFu Countryside Assured Food Standards
with Peter Kendall You agreed with most of what Owen Paterson had to say, what about the issues that you didn’t see eye to eye on? It was incredibly frustrating that the Secretary of State was wanting to hark back to an era of coupled payments and food mountains when the NFU has worked hard to drive a more market-focused CAP. The industry is really up for seeing how we do all the environmental work but pillar one money has been a lifeblood of the farming industry.
Philip Clarke was contrite in the way he explained Tesco’s role in addressing the horsemeat saga is it about delivery now? The timing of having Philip Clarke at this event with all the media coverage that he had done around the Tesco announcement was really important. But, as farmers, are we sceptical about working with supermarkets? Of course we are. But 58p in every pound is now spent in supermarkets, and the supermarkets are our biggest and most important customers. Philip made some serious pledges. Our role is now to go through the details of the proposals and to work with our specialists to create contracts that are fair and balanced. But crucially, I want every sector to hold them to account. If we pull this off it will be massive because of the scale of Tesco. And what about all the media coverage this conference got?
And thanks to our other supporters: bbSRC land Rover M&S Moy Park AbP bOCM Pauls
THE LAST WORD
Farm Africa bright Crop Avonline broadband R.A.b.i South Staffordshire College
The coverage was unprecedented. It shows that we’re taking the messages our to the public. If we get our message right – that we are passionate farmers producing world-class food – we can make a real difference.