NFU conference will probe the challenge of farming in volatile times

The challenge of farming in a volatile world is the theme that will dominate next month’s National Farmers Union (NFU) conference in Birmingham with key contributions from supermarket leaders, bankers, international traders and politicians.

The event, which takes place at the ICC in Birmingham on February 24 & 25, will be headlined by Secretary of State, Elizabeth Truss and EU farm commissioner, Phil Hogan.  An additional pre-election focus is included, with a day-two session designed to allow all the political parties to “set out their stall on farming issues”.

There will also be a dedicated session dealing with “volatility in the livestock sector”, asking if today’s challenging situation for farmers is actually “the new norm” and, if so, how it can be managed.  Speakers for this will include Dunbia’s group procurement director, Padraig Browne, and Marks and Spencer’s head of agriculture, Steve McLean.

Two separate animal health and welfare sessions are planned. Delegates will be given a day-one update by Defra’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Nigel Gibbens, dealing with the lessons learnt from the recent avian flu outbreak.

This will be followed on day two with a session headed “championing animal health on our farms”. Speakers for this include Catherine McLaughlin of the RDPE integrated animal health framework proposal; EBLEX’s Nerys Wright, dealing with AHDB’s role in relation to animal health; Waitrose’s Duncan Sinclair, who will look at the retail side of the health debate and the National Office of Animal Health’s Donal Murphy, who will review technological advances from the pharmaceutical sector.

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