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NFU president's bold rural vision

PUBLISHED: 09:08 17 June 2006 | UPDATED: 11:02 22 October 2010

Farmers' leader Peter Kendall has rejected the image of the working countryside as "some sort of rural idyll" and says the industry could make a major contribution to the UK economy.

Farmers' leader Peter Kendall has rejected the image of the working countryside as "some sort of rural idyll" and says the industry could make a major contribution to the UK economy.

There had been a "monumental, ham-fisted implementation" of the Common Agricultural Policy reforms but the industry and the National Farmers' Union must look to the future, he said.

Speaking at the Cereals 2006 event at Nocton, near Lincoln, he welcomed the approach taken by new environment secretary David Miliband, who had contacted Mr Kendall and held a series of discussions before inviting him to visit an arable farm.

"I spent an hour on the train and then we visited a Hampshire farm before returning with him on the train," said the newly-elected NFU president.

And Mr Kendall welcomed the thrust of Mr Miliband's statements that farming was "critically important to the country and not just the countryside".

"To me, that was a reversal of the perception of ambivalence to productive agriculture that we have seen for too long. I was delighted to see that," he said.

He said Mr Miliband had also spoken of his challenge in the 21st century "to have a new contract with the environment".

Farming could be a central part of this new thinking and it would be a big step forward, said Mr Kendall.

While all sectors recognised the problems involved with the CAP reforms, the industry was now in the third year of "fully decoupled payments."

One element of the NFU's forward thinking involved the launch of a vision for the future of combinable crops. The NFU is keen to involve as many of the country's estimated 12,000 dedicated arable farmers in the discussions in the next six months.

Arthur Hill, chairman of the combinable crops board, and Mr Kendall wanted to hear the long-term view of arable farmers.

They want to project what the future for the arable sector may look like, what farmers want and what can be delivered over the next 15 years.

Mr Hill said: "The NFU Combinable Crops Board is in a unique position to develop and build an industry vision for arable farming. This vision will help put arable farmers on the front foot in policy decisions and give the industry and Government an agenda to work towards to ensure a sustainable future."

The Vision document looks at four key areas including the market place, resources, govern-ment and regulation and the environment. With arable farm-ing moving towards being unsupported in the next 15 years, the NFU Vision is looking for ways to support its future.


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