Future’s bright in 10 years, Norfolk farmers told

A more vibrant agricultural industry will be central to national and international economic growth over the next 10 years, says National Farmers' Union director-general Kevin Roberts.

He told members of Norfolk NFU that the food and farming sector could make a significant contribution as the economy was rebalanced away from financial services.

'We need to produce more food, 70pc or 100pc depending on which forecasts, which means that agriculture is going to be a better place in about 10 years time,' said Mr Roberts.

'The long-term prospects are very good, but there will be some challenges on the supply side. Most economists will tell you that growing demand means better prices.

'On average, prices in the next 10 years will be better than the last 10 years, which is good news, but inputs will be up as well.'

He added: 'Farming is part of the food industry, which is the country's largest manufacturing sector. It is why farming matters in the recovery.

'Farming has a solution to play in delivering economic recovery and growth.'

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A key challenge for the NFU was to provide the right business environ-ment for farmers and growers. In particular, they needed to be more effective in the supply chain.

'More and more of the value to your businesses is going to come from the market place and less and less from income support over the long term,' he said.

'We need as the NFU to create the right business environment for you to do your business.'

Mr Roberts said the coalition government did understand and appreciate the importance of food and farming.

'The challenge for us is to make sure that they now deliver on some of the promises they made in opposition.

'They've got off to a reasonable start: the mood music is pretty good,' he said.

He did express concern about the impact of policy delivery but thought Defra could cut spending by slashing red tape. 'One way is to cut regulation and the implementation of regulations. I'm fairly confident that one of these initiatives for the first time might actually deliver some value to us all,' he said.