Minette Batters- speaking at this year’s annual Farm Business Update, said agriculture risked being ‘the sacrificial lamb’ in Brexit talks - unless farmers found their ‘collective voice’.
The event, organised by chartered accountants Duncan & Toplis and land agents Brown & Co, was attended by more than 200 farmers at either the Petwood Hotel in Woodhall Spa or Greetham Valley, near Oakham.
Ms Batters, a beef farmer from Wiltshire, now leads the NFU as the UK enters the final stages of Brexit trade talks.
She said: “Farming starts the Brexit process from a really good place but we must have a free and frictionless relationship with Europe.
“The European market is key to British agriculture but we’ve hardly featured in those trade talks so far - and we need to.
“We must make sure that farming doesn’t end up as the sacrificial lamb for the financial services sector.”
Going on to talk about the Environment Minister Michael Gove’s plans for a ‘Green Brexit’, Ms Batters stressed The NFU’s commitment to keep standing up for farmers after the current system of direct payment ends.
She added: “You cannot go green if you’re farming in the red. Farmers do most of the work, take most of the risk but we’re one of the only sectors which can’t pass on rising costs. Our biggest challenge is trying to bring together the collective voice of the UK’s largest manufacturing sector.”