THE NFU is planning to call on politicians and parliamentary candidates to ensure family farms in Devon are properly supported at the county show this week. 

Farmers and senior NFU office holders including president Tom Bradshaw are planning to be at the Devon County Show, which is in Exeter from May 16-19.

Farming leaders in the county are calling for commitments on county food production. In Devon, according to the NFU, farming supports more than 20,000 jobs, manages more than 1.2million acres of farmland, and contributes nearly £870million to Devon’s economy.

Visit Devon researchers have also revealed that the landscape also generates an income of around £2.5billion per year.

The NFU Farmer Confidence Survey indicated that a major concern for farmers comes as a result of the recent relentless wet weather with 82% of respondents saying their farm businesses have suffered fairly negative (52%) or very negative impacts (30%), with mixed farms, arable farms and dairy farms having taken the biggest hits.

The NFU is calling for the government to recognise the effect of what has been the wettest 18 months since 1836, warning that many farms may be unable to survive.

A Farm to Fork Summit was held at Number 10 yesterday (May 14), when the Prime Minister championed home grown food production and announced some positive measures regarding food security and horticulture.

NFU South Regional Director Mel Squires said: “As a county, Devon heavily relies on the farming community to produce great-tasting sustainable food as well as benefitting the environment and boosting the local rural communities and the economy all year round.

“As of 2022, the total value of crops harvested in Devon was over £196 million and the total value of livestock produced was over £1,043 million, and it is all thanks to the hard work of our county farmers, growers and their families.

“To see the dedication our farmers and growers continue to demonstrate after what has been an unprecedented and challenging time of wet weather, with the addition of ongoing labour shortages and rising production costs, is truly remarkable and I’m looking forward to speaking with them at the Devon County Show about what more we can do to ensure they are supported both now and in the future, so they, their families and their farming businesses thrive.

“The NFU have always pushed for more commitment from the government to secure a more resilient and sustainable future for our farming families and with a General Election on the horizon, it has been never been more important to have our members’ voices heard.”

The NFU has provided solutions for political particles to help reverse the breakdown in farmer confidence in its General Election Manifesto. These include:

  • Plan for and reward farmers fairly for their role in mitigating flood risk and commit to the proactive management of our watercourses.
  • A smooth and seamless transition to new environmental schemes that are open to all farmers and growers, and ensure profitable long-term, food-producing businesses.
  • Establish minimum standards to promote a fair and functioning supply chain.
  • Develop and establish core production standards that apply to agri-food imports.

Devon County Chair Paul Glanvill said: “As a farmer in Devon, I am proud to produce high quality, healthy food for people to eat and enjoy and we are all committed to the highest standards of food production, animal welfare, and we are also enhancing the farmed environment.

“Our farms are helping to drive sustainability, we make a fundamental contribution to our economy and we can also offer many solutions to the climate change challenge.

“It has been an extremely challenging time for farmers here in Devon with the wet weather having a real financial impact and while there has been some support on offer from government, we still need to see action in other areas including on British food security.

“I’m thankful for how the general public have continued to show their support and appreciation for what we do and now we need to see our politicians from all parties value and back the production of home-grown food and our family businesses.”