Around 100 Yorkshire coast farmers turned out to meet NFU president Peter Kendall during a recent visit to Scarborough.
With all sectors facing huge challenges at the moment, Mr Kendall said the mood of many was downbeat, but they were still able to discuss ways of maximising emerging opportunities.
“Many of our members feel as though they’ve had the stuffing knocked out of them at the moment and that’s entirely understandable, with the weather wreaking havoc, farm incomes down and costs rising,” he said.
“This makes farming a tough undertaking, but our members never fail to surprise and despite the current climate most people were keen to talk about how to work together to make the most of new opportunities.”
During a day spent in and around Scarborough Mr Kendall met local arable farmers in the morning, before visiting the mixed farm, at Broxa, of branch chairman John Swiers in the afternoon to sit down with local livestock producers.
In the evening an open branch meeting attracted more than 70 farmers from across the patch.
Key issues discussed included forthcoming CAP reform and the work the NFU is doing to achieve the best possible outcome for English farmers, the drive to keep Yorkshire and the North East free of Bovine TB and work to mitigate the effects of flooding.
Mr Kendall was also keen to discuss the aftermath of the horsemeat scandal and supermarket pledges to buy more British beef.
“Our challenge is to make the most of this opportunity and I’m very interested to hear farmers’ views.
“It’s clear from talking to members today that there are some significant hurdles to overcome in terms of supermarkets winning back the confidence and trust of British farmers. This will be crucial if they are to invest and boost production. After all, beef is a long term commitment that takes years to deliver.
“That said, I am confident our farmers have what it takes to meet the challenge and certainly many of the practical ideas put forward today emphasise the enduring enthusiasm farmers have for their industry.”
Commenting after the visit, branch chairman John Swiers said the day had been a real success. “Judging by the positive comments I’ve had, local farmers appreciated the opportunity to see Peter and get a detailed update on the work that the NFU is doing nationally and in Brussels too,” he said.
“It’s good to get an insight into what goes on behind the scenes, working with government ministers, industry leaders and retail giants. It highlights the scale of the challenge facing us but also reassures farmers that their points of view are being championed.”