UK - Politicians need to ensure that the food chain works and the farming sector is given unhindered access to futures markets. Chris Harris reports from the NFU conference in Birmingham.
In his opening address to the National Farmers Union Conference in Birmingham, NFU President Meurig Raymond [pictured] said that in an election year in the UK, the politicians needed to do all they can to reduce the effects of volatility on the sector.
Mr Raymond applauded work of the Grocery Code Adjudicator and the fact that she has now been given the power to impose fines.
However he called on the next government to extend the powers of the adjudicator to oversee issues further down the supply chain.
“Our experience in this country is that voluntary measures in the food chain do not necessarily work,” Mr Raymond said.
And he called for compulsory measures to be taken to ensure a fair market.
Mr Raymond also called for futures markets to be extended into areas such as milk and fertilisers, particularly to assist the dairy sector.
And he said that easing of tax laws to allow longer periods of tax averaging – over five years – would help dairy farmers in difficult times.
Mr Raymond said there should be better labelling legislation to show country of origin, which should be extended to dairy products.
The NFU president also said there should be more action to remove barriers to diversification in production and marketing and more assistance to export more.
In her speech to the conference, the Secretary of State for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs, Liz Truss, indicated that the British government is working to help institute futures markets for the dairy sector.
She added that country of origin labelling will be introduced for pork, lamb and poultry from April and that the government is looking at in ways of introducing similar measure for the dairy sector.
“We are doing all we can to work with the industry to support those with cash-flow issues and try to ensure that we retain capacity in this vital sector,” said Mrs Truss.
She said the government is working to delay the impact of tax bills, and it is working with banks “to ensure they are providing whatever help they can where there re short term cash-flow issues”.
“Together with the NFU, we are exploring the feasibility of a futures market for dairy to enable farmers to have a greater price predictability,” she said.
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