NFU Deputy President, representing 50k wealthy farmers on £2Bn/yr welfare benefits, attacks green NGOs as single issue pressure groups

Today’s offering from Farmers Weekly reports Deputy President Minette Batters argue that boosting food production is the key to a thriving rural economy. Same old NFU there.

But with 2.1 billion overweight or obese in the world, and the UK 3rd the most overweight country in Europe, should we really be boosting food production? What about all the other vital goods the land provides, clean water, carbon storage, flood alleviation, joy, inspiration and peace? Do they not count?

It also reports her comments on “single issue pressure groups”. Farmers Weekly did not mention the other claim made at the same event, that a badger had been vaccinated against bovine TB 22 times.

Batters didn’t dismiss the claim but rather, remarked: ” it must have had a real taste for peanuts”.

I expect even the Farmers Weekly  realised it was nonsense that a badger would have been vaccinated that many times. Badger vaccinators are trained and mark each animal they vaccinate every year. As a badger only lives 4 years on average it would 0nly have been vaccinated a maximum of 4 times in its lifetime. The vaccination leaves no mark, so how would anyone have seen the evidence of 22 vaccinations?

If environmental and animal welfare groups are single issue pressure groups, what does that make the NFU? They only speak for a fraction of their own 50,000 members, who in themselves only make up a third of the farmers of England. They don’t really represent anyone apart from a small clique of wealthy landowners milking society for £3bn of handouts every year.

Ms Batters has clearly taken on the “bash the green lobby” role from former President Peter Kendall. It doesn’t look like she’s up to his standard of polemic yet, but I have high hopes for her.



The government must pay greater attention to boosting food production, as it is the linchpin of a thriving rural sector, according to NFU deputy president Minette Batters.

Speaking at the Devon County Show last week, Ms Batters said that successive governments had paid lip service to farmers, but had failed to fulfil their promises. “Food production is not a priority for this government – the language has changed since Margaret Beckett, but the actions haven’t.”

Prioritising food production would affect every part of the rural economy, as politicians would have to tackle TB, support land-based education, reduce red tape, and curb the power of single-issue pressure groups, said Ms Batters. “Eradicating TB is part of food production – we have a strategy in place, and if we don’t do it now, it will never happen.”

The rise in influence of non-governmental organisations, which politicians mistakenly called “society”, posed a considerable threat to food production, she added. “These are not ‘society’ – they are pressure groups, some of which don’t want to see farming at all.”

Ms Batters was also very worried about retailers’ failure to wholly back British produce, just one year on from the Horsegate scandal. “We need to look after our own supply chains – and, personally, I would like to know what happened to those prosecutions,” she said.

Mirroring farmers’ concerns about depressed beef prices, MP Neil Parish said he had already contacted the Groceries Adjudicator. “It looks like there’s a monopoly of ownership by Irish beef companies and I’ve asked the adjudicator to look into that.”

About Miles King

UK conservation professional, writing about nature, politics, life. All views are my own and not my employers. I don't write on behalf of anybody else.
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7 Responses to NFU Deputy President, representing 50k wealthy farmers on £2Bn/yr welfare benefits, attacks green NGOs as single issue pressure groups

  1. Ro Scott says:

    When will these people realise that the environment is not a ‘single issue’? – It is the context in which the entirety of human activity on this planet takes place.

    • Miles King says:

      Thanks Ro. It’s a deliberate attempt by NFU to frame the debate around “feed the world” type arguments, rather than “we depend on the environment for all sorts of things”.

  2. Tom Rigby says:

    if your read the source you quote more careful you may realise Ms Batters did not say that badger had been vaccinated 22 times (but if you read your sources more carefully you may realised her name is not “Minetter” either!)

    • Miles King says:

      thanks Tom.

      She was told the badger had been vaccinated 22 times and said “it must have had a real taste for peanuts”. She did not disagree with the claim. typos abound!

  3. dayetucker2011 says:

    Without a healthy environment food production will be compromised. Crunch time is already here with artificial fertiliser inputs already impacting negatively on many farm production systems. Polarised views from both sides are destructive, and not helpful to farming or the environment.

  4. Paul Seligman says:

    Miles, I suggest you do correct typos where pointed out, like by Tom – getting the name of the person you are attacking wrong does undermine credibility of rest of the piece. I’ve scheduled a tweet-link to this piece at 18:15, so a fix by them would be good…..

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