Ian Goodwin attends NFU Annual Conference

On Tuesday and Wednesday the 15th and 16th February I spent two very enjoyable days at the NFU Conference in Birmingham at the kind invitation of David Collier and his team at the National Farmers Union (NFU) West Midlands Regional office.


The opening address at the Conference was given by NFU President, Peter Kendall, with the theme of this year’s Conference being 'Farming at the heart of the economy'. 

This was followed by the opening political address by DEFRA's Secretary of State, The Rt Hon Caroline Spelman MP, who informed the Conference delegates that no decision had yet been made on the issue of bovine TB and asked farmers to remain patient.


There followed some interesting speeches on the theme of ‘Challenges in a global market’ by Paul Conway OBE (Senior Vice President, Cargill), Graham Bartlett (Managing Director, E.ON Energy Solutions) and Prof Ian Crute CBE (Chief Scientist, Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board).


The most entertaining speech of the Conference came from Dennis Turner, Chief Economist, HSBC Bank Plc who took us through his thoughts for the UK economy in 2011-12.  It was interesting to hear his thoughts on the prospects for UK interest base rate rises and the likely euro exchange rate on 30 September 2011 which would set this year’s exchange rate for the Single Farm Payment Scheme.
After an excellent Conference dinner and a very entertaining after dinner speech by the BBC Sports Broadcaster, Garry Richardson, the second day concluded with a question time chaired by the Broadcaster, Tom Heap.  The theme was ‘Is modern agriculture palatable?’ with the panel members being the Rt Hon Jim Paice MP (Minister of State for Agriculture and Food), The Rt Hon John Gummer, Lord Deben (Chairman, Sancroft International), Jay Rayner (Writer, Journalist and Broadcaster), Patrick Holden CBE (Director, Sustainable Food Trust)  and Peter Kendall (President, NFU).  There followed some very lively exchanges between the panel members with Peter Kendall and Patrick Holden renewing old rivalries.


It was an excellent Conference which afforded me the opportunity to meet many people connected with the industry and listen to some of the very best speakers. 


Lanyon Bowdler is the NFU nominated Panel Legal Firm for Shropshire, Staffordshire and Herefordshire.