Nothing is off the table in Defra’s post-Brexit aims

The new year has been interesting in policy terms – starting with Michael Gove’s speech at the Oxford Farming Conference.

In it, he affirmed the Government’s ambition to ensure that a future domestic agricultural policy will be adequately funded and targeted across a range of areas. We have known for some time that public goods, innovation and productivity have been the Government’s stated post-Brexit aims. However, it has been interesting to note that skills and the next generation are equally taking a share of the policy rhetoric.

This was confirmed to us by Defra officials, who have been tasked with speaking to industry sectors about which solutions could be offered to help bring on new entrants and improve the labour shortfall.

It’s quite refreshing that nothing appears to be ‘off the table’ in respect to how these aims could be delivered – changes to the tax regime, grant funding, loan guarantees and new apprenticeship models are all mooted mechanisms. The NPA will have this conversation with Government, but we always remain open to members’ views in providing practical solutions for us to take forward.

As for Young NPA, we all look forward to another year of stimulating discussions and events. Last year, the YNPA enjoyed trips to the Genus Bull Stud, near York, and to Schippers’ HyCare facility, in the Netherlands.

The year finished with the highlight, the Young NPA National, held in London, which saw a really interesting and varied discussion on antibiotic use – an issue that challenges the industry and it was great to hear YNPA members respond from their perspective.

From a personal point of view, it was really encouraging to meet a lot of younger people already involved in the industry, both on the producer and allied industry side and we look forward to an equally enjoyable National in December 2018. A big thank-you to A-One for sponsoring the day.
For the rest of this year, Georgina and I will be looking at a number of events and trips. The YNPA is there entirely for the benefit of young people in the pig industry and we are hoping to hear from any of you who have ideas or suggestions for trips this year.

Please be as ambitious as you like! We only want to put on events that benefit YNPA members and the more input we have, the more we can arrange events tailored to what you would like to see.

Similarly, if any ex-YNPA members have suggestions for visits that they may have been on themselves, please do let us know. It does not have to be pig-related, of course – some of the most valuable visits or insights can come from other sectors or industries.

Ed Barker
Edward Barker is the NPA’s senior policy advisor. He previously worked for rural business advisors Cheffins and the Country and Business Association

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