Peter Kendall will give an upbeat verdict on the health and resilience of the UK farming industry as his eight years as the industry’s figurehead draws to a close.
Opening the 2014 NFU conference in Birmingham, the outgoing NFU president will unveil a report highlighting how the industry has thrived during a difficult time for the UK economy and despite some of the worst weather in living memory.
The ‘Backing the Business of British Farming’ demonstrates how UK agriculture has proved ‘remarkably resilient’, bucking the trend as one of the few success stories during the recession. The report reveals that:
- Over the past five years UK agriculture’s contribution to the economy increased by 54 per cent between 2007 and 2012.
- Agriculture contributed an additional £8.6bn more to the UK economy between 2008 and 2012 than it did between 2003 and 2007.
- Food and drink is now the UK’s fourth largest exporting sector – exports in the first half of 2013 grew by 2.5 per cent to £6.12bn compared to £5.97bn in the first half of 2012.
As he has done from the start of his presidency in 2006, Mr Kendall will call on Government to ‘put agriculture at its heart and set its economic policies through the food security lens’.
The report is backed up by a new consumer survey showing 88 per cent of people believe it is important the Government should have a strategy to ensure a secure and affordable supply of British food, Mr Kendall will say.
Speaking ahead of his speech on Tuesday morning, during which he will unveil more details of the report, Mr Kendall said:
“The achievements shown in this report prove that farming has been delivering for Britain’s economy despite the challenges thrown at us over the past couple of years – heavy rain, drought, unseasonable snow and in recent weeks, we have all seen the impacts of flooding across the country and the challenges farmers have faced and sought to understand the impacts on our food supplies.
“We as an industry produce the raw materials for the biggest manufacturing sector in the economy, so trying to get people to understand our contribution to the whole economy is absolutely vital. We are growing businesses. We are creating jobs. If the Government is looking for a sector to kick-start growth and rebalance the economy then they should start by looking at agriculture.
“I believe any long term economic plan for growth in the UK must include a long-term and strategic food plan.”
“My message is that farmers have a vital role in ensuring a safe, traceable and high quality domestic food supply, and the collective importance of food and farming to the UK economy must not be underestimated.
“This is why it’s so important that politicians and retailers continue to back the business of British farming.”
Mr Kendall will stand down as NFU president on Wednesday, the second day of the conference, when elections will be staged for the three senior NFU officeholder position.
(Source – http://www.farmersguardian.com/home/latest-news/nfu14-kendall-hails-resilience-of-uk-farming-industry/62542.article)