NSF Held Parliamentary Dinner on Eve of Brexit Deal Vote

January 29, 2019

Robert Courts (MP for Witney & West Oxfordshire) – Addressing the industry, Members of Parliament and Peers

On 14th January, NSF International hosted an evening dinner and open discussion on Britain’s farming future in the House of Commons dining room at the Palace of Westminster, just prior to the vote on the prime minister’s proposed Brexit deal. Forty attendees, including senior stakeholders from the agriculture sector, Members of Parliament and Peers from the House of Lords, attended the drinks reception and engaged in the lively debate that followed over dinner.

The UK team work with over 30,000 farmers and food businesses every year delivering farm assurance and consulting support to help them improve their businesses. Many of our team are farmers themselves so we are doubly passionate about securing the future profitability of UK agriculture and great British food. That's why we worked with Robert Courts (MP Witney and West Oxfordshire) to plan an evening of speeches and debate around key agricultural topics over a reception and evening dinner. We invited senior thought leaders from the industry including farming unions, ADHB, government, retailers and food businesses.

We also invited Forbes Elworthy, a farmer and financier responsible for the third largest farm in New Zealand to speak about the experience that New Zealand had in its trading relationships when the UK joined the EEC in 1973. Forbes discussed some of the similarities and differences between the situations in New Zealand and the UK, during the Brexit transition, and what we could learn from their journey.

With so many thought leaders present, there were some lively debates on issues covering environment and biodiversity, animal welfare, responsible sourcing and labour. Consumer issues were also highlighted with a discussion around millennial trends such as flexitarianism. Another key topic was the impacts of geography within the supply chain and distance to your end consumer, with subsequent effect on pricing variations in commodities such as milk.

It was a great opportunity for NSF to demonstrate what we do and our passion for the industry and to engage with the industry at the highest levels in order to work through some of the important issues, to learn from the past and to look to the future of farming.

Rob Chester (Managing Director) summarised it well: “Most gratifying was the comment that we should be at the forefront of policy decision making and have a voice in the House as to the future direction of the sector.”