04 May 2021, 13:07 PM
  • Minette Batters, president of the NFU, explores what Covid-19 has meant for British farmers, and why now is the time for levelling up rural economies
Minette Batters, NFU: “Rural Britain has a bright future ahead”

Rural Britain is a huge part of our national heritage and culture. Farmers are a key part of this, delivering quality, affordable, sustainable food for all and forming the backbone of the UK’s £120 billion food and drink sector and providing jobs for around 4 million people.

But just like the rest of the country, rural Britain has had a tough year. The pandemic closed the foodservice sector overnight, leaving many farmers without a market and facing continued disruption as it reopened and closed again. Panic buying put the supply chain under pressure as shoppers experienced empty supermarket shelves.

However, these issues shone a light on food security and people have come to value home-grown food much more. A recent survey showed that public support for British farming has reached an all-time high and we’re consistently hearing that more people are buying locally from butchers, farm shops and direct from farmers. Farming as an industry is incredibly resilient. It is always evolving to remain productive and profitable, and to deliver British food that embodies our moral values. In times of difficulty we pull together, adapt, innovate and deliver for the nation’s needs.

And there is so much more we have to offer, whether it’s providing climate-friendly food for all, delivering green economic growth, creating jobs, increasing exports or improving the wellbeing of a nation in recovery. To truly maximise our potential we need to level up urban and rural areas. If our government can enable equal opportunities for all businesses, regardless of where they are based, then rural Britain has a bright future ahead.

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