FARM chief David Exwood will be joining farmers of all ages at the Northumberland County Show tomorrow (Sat) to highlight a series of wins secured at the government’s recent food security summit, while also recognising that the sector’s confidence is at its lowest level since 2020.

The NFU vice-president says the summit is seen as a significant step in the union’s campaign to drive home the strategic importance of British food and farming. It has secured several new commitments from Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, including steps to unlock new trade opportunities for British producers - something that has been welcomed by the county’s livestock farmers.

However, this progress sits starkly against the backdrop of the NFU’s annual Farmer Confidence Survey, which emphasised the impact of agricultural inflation, the phasing out of farming support payments and the effects of increasing regulation.

Some 88 per cent of respondents said they are being negatively affected by higher prices for energy, fuel and fertiliser; 82 per cent said reductions in support payments were hitting them hard and 72 per cent cited increased regulation as a reason for falling business confidence.

Northumberland county chair and sustainable livestock farmer, James Drummond, said he was pleased to see the government taking food security seriously and seeking to drive export opportunities. “At home, cattle and sheep are a cornerstone of our landscape management and provide an important contribution to a healthy, balanced diet,” he said. “But with the government adopting liberalised trade agreements, and producers facing huge rises in production costs alongside growing financial uncertainty, we need a long-term plan and real investment in UK agriculture to allow us to maximise our export potential.

“Although there is real potential for British farmers to lead the world in climate-friendly food production, I am worried about the current challenges facing the local farming community that underpins our rural economy, supporting a huge range of other rural businesses from vets, to machinery dealers, feed merchants to B&Bs.

“In the face of such low levels of confidence it is vital that the government embraces measures to boost home-grown food production, support confidence, drive investment and encourage growth in British food.”