A bright future lies ahead for agriculture – provided that supply chain inequalities can be resolved and more young people recruited into farming careers.
That is the opinion of East Sussex NFU’s new chairman Ed Gribble. He has a dairy, beef, sheep and arable enterprise at Cobbe Place Farm, Beddingham near Lewes.
Mr Gribble said: “A bright future lies ahead for British farmers and growers, with the world’s population growing and rising demand for food.
“But imbalances of power in the supply chain here at home must be sorted out so that farmers receive a fair price to more than cover their costs of production. This will allow farmers to invest in their businesses for the future and contribute to the nation’s food security.”
Mr Gribble farms in a family partnership with his wife Tina, and son Tom, and they are tenants of the Firle Estate.
Much of the farm is in conservation schemes such as Higher Level Stewardship, benefiting farmland birds and the plants and insects associated with chalk grassland on the South Downs.
Mr Gribble explained: “This is an exciting time, in the wake of the horsemeat scandal. Shoppers want to buy more British food and more local food.
“Farmers have a big chance to start negotiating with the major retailers who want to build better relationships with producers. Nevertheless, the new Groceries Code Adjudicator will have a vital role, enforcing the Groceries Supply Code of Practice and regulating interactions between the 10 largest supermarkets and their direct suppliers.”
He added: “The biggest challenge facing agriculture now is the need for at least 60,000 new recruits over the next decade.
“The NFU is working to promote our industry with the land-based colleges, such as Plumpton, with Young Farmers’ Clubs and the Farming and Countryside Education programme to attract more young blood.
“We also have our Farming Delivers for Britain campaign highlighting all that’s good about British farming.”