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Farmers’ leader makes plea for clear Brexit policy

Minette Batters

The president of the National Farmers’ Union has highlighted the need to clarify trading standards for the food supply chain across Cumbria as talks on Brexit enter their final phase.

During an online debate staged by regional law firm Napthens, the NFU president Minette Batters said there is an opportunity to ‘help shape the policy of farming for years to come.’

She said: “We need a good trading standards outcome, access to a vibrant and reliable workforce and a policy which does what it says on the tin.”

Minette highlighted how a million people have signed a petition calling on the government to make sure food imports meet UK production standards post-Brexit – and appealed for more businesses in the food supply chain to sign up to the campaign as Brexit talks continue.

NFU regional director David Hall said his organization is working with the regional Local Enterprise Partnerships in Lancashire and Cumbria to help support farmers.

He said: “We’ve seen unprecedented demand for local milk and other food products – and the empty shelves in supermarkets during the Covid outbreak have demonstrated how vulnerable the food supply chain can be. Farmers are looking at adding value to the supply chain and taking more control to remove some of the vulnerability. There are positive opportunities all the way through to direct retail sales.”

Chairing the debate, Jamie Allison of Napthens, Head of Real Estate and Cumbria, said: “As a business, we have been educating our clients to put structures in place for succession for some time and times such as these illustrate the importance of getting it right.”

Meanwhile, Gordon Whitford, HSBC Regional Agricultural Manager, said: “When discussing succession it is important to document the requirements and to sit round a table to discuss what people want. It is good to see different models out there including contract farming and shared farming routes – succession is important.”

He also highlighted how there is ‘significant expansion’ in rural businesses through diversification of income and maximizing assets for the future.

For more detail on the debate visit the Napthens website.

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