THE EFFORT to feed people amid spiralling farm costs was among issues put on the table at a meeting of Warwickshire famers.
Around 50 farmers met for the Warwickshire NFU annual general meeting led by NFU vice president David Exwood.
Mr Exwood discussed the impact on farm businesses following unprecedented hikes in fuel, feed, fertiliser and finance over the past 12 months.
He also discussed the issues around farmland flooding and the toll it had taken on winter crops and the need for government to match its talk about the importance of UK food security with action on water management.
Warwickshire farmers heard Mr Exwood had held farm meetings with the new Defra secretary of state Steve Barclay and Labour shadow minister Steve Reed and said he had urged both to maintain British food production and safeguard domestic supply.
He said: “The NFU has a strong voice at the table representing your businesses and my job is to be able to go back again and again when change is needed, building those relationships, calling for action and pushing for solutions to benefit your farms.
“We are the people that produce food, manage the land and maintain the countryside and my message is clear to our politicians, that we are the people to work with if you want to get things done in terms of food production, climate and the environment, and all of the challenges our businesses and communities face.”
A major area that raised plenty of discussion was the Sustainable Farming Incentive scheme – a payment scheme whereby government pays farmers to adopt and maintain sustainable farming practices that can protect and improve the environment.
Mr Exwood said despite some issues with the scheme and it being a big movement away from the previous Basic Payment Scheme, the SFI platform was now in place and he urged members to engage with it and draw down the money allocated to farming in the government’s budget.
He added: “Hopefully there is now something in there for most farmers and while there will no doubt be teething problems and a few wrinkles you can get an application in and get payments out.
“We’ve got better payment rates and you can make it work for your particular farming system.
“There are many things you do on your farms here in Warwickshire where you are farming more sustainably anyway and you can get paid for that, incentivising you to produce in that way.
“You need that certainty and I think we need to get on with it now that it is available, so let’s make it work better for our businesses.”
Also at the meeting, sector board reports were heard and farmers were also elected to the NFU’s crops, livestock, dairy, horticulture boards and other groups where they could make a difference from the grassroots up.