Posted 14 February 2017
Continuing a programme where leading industry figures give their views on the impact of Brexit on the farming and food sectors, Harper Adams was delighted to welcome the President of the NFU, Meurig Raymond on a visit to the University.
Mr Raymond began his visit by meeting a group of agriculture and agri-business students over lunch, where they had the opportunity to discuss questions as wide ranging as the likelihood of GM crops being allowed in the UK post-Brexit to the way in which British produce might be marketed, and more widely used, in the public sector’s procurement of food.
Then it was on to a presentation by Mr Raymond on the NFU’s role in securing a good outcome for the farming industry during the Brexit negotiations and in the formulation of the future domestic agricultural policy. A packed audience in the Weston Lecture Theatre heard about the way in which the NFU is helping to shape the debate, with priorities including ensuring that the outcome delivers sustainable rural businesses, addresses the need for migrant labour, produces a dynamic food chain and provides a countryside that works for everyone.
Of particular interest were Mr Raymond’s insights into the political dynamics as we progress towards Brexit negotiations, particularly around the nature of trade agreements, how these might impact on the UK farming sector and how the position taken by US policymakers might also affect the operation of the post-Brexit trade environment.
At the same time, Mr Raymond was keen to stress the opportunities ahead of the sector in delivering increased exports of British goods, promoting greater UK self-sufficiency in food supplies, ensuring that consumers are fully aware of the high standards of food produced in the UK and how the use of technologies, such as those being developed at the University, would be instrumental in helping to improve future farm productivity. Mr Raymond added that it would be important for the NFU, and other farming organisations, to continue to contribute credible solutions to DEFRA and the wider UK Government to address the challenges presented to the UK as the Brexit discussions progressed.
Mr Raymond’s presentation was warmly received by the audience and the presentation prompted a number of thought-provoking questions from the audience on the matter of trade negotiations, demonstrating that students at Harper Adams are alive to the issues at hand and keen to see how the Brexit negotiations progress.
Following the talk, the Vice-Chancellor took Mr Raymond on a tour of the University’s new developments, including the £2.7m laboratory scheme which will come into operation in the next few weeks and will provide state-of-the-art science teaching facilities for the University’s students. The tour concluded with a visit to the new Centre for Innovation in Engineering and Precision Farming, currently under construction on the south side of the campus. This project, which forms part of the UK Strategy for Agricultural Technologies, will deliver facilities for university-business collaboration in which the University is working with two other higher education institutions and a wide range of companies.