The UK Farmers Union - is it time ?

Clive

Staff Member
BASE UK Member
Location
Lichfield
First off lets get this clear - TFF is a independent knowledge exchange platform for farmers, it has no remit or ambition to lobby or represent UK farmers is any way. Topics discussed by members on TFF are led by those members, of which I am just one. The below post is my opinion solely as a arable farmer from Staffordshire that feels strong that our traditional representation has become self serving, rotten and unchallenged. It fails to accept democracy and therefore falsely represents UK agriculture in both media and politically.


Do we need a credible opposition / altrenative to the NFU now ? It's a question / suggestion asked in many threads here over the years. Is there a need for an origination to lobby and represent farmers exclusively ?

Some suggestions for key points of difference would be (open to other suggestion)

Farmer members only (no merchant, processors, retailers, other lobby groups or input / machinery suppliers)​
All UK farmers represented - England, Scotland, Wales and NI​
One member one vote (see video below)​
Elected officers only paid expenses - elected OMOV​
All policy direction to be determined by OMOV democracy - we use software to make this happen (see video below)​
All meetings open and online for any member to attend - 100% transparency and low cost structure​
Free to join but capped transparent costs to be levied from members annually​
No commercial connection or affiliation, insurance deals, discount deals etc. 100% independant​



I would suggest using something like this (there are similar other platforms that could facilitate ) below



As I say this would be nothing to do with TFF but I am personally happy to work with others that feel the same to get something off the ground if there is demand for it ? Expressions of interest or desire to get involved would be a good place to start

If this is a stupid idea please say so and I will give up now
 

Clive

Staff Member
BASE UK Member
Location
Lichfield
Yes.

But divided we fall. Needs to be powerful enough for if a supermarket tries to shag us, we all stop supplying the next day. That's the only way to have power is through collective action, not collective inaction.
I do totally get the divided we fall argument (it's a very good one TBH) and have lived in hope that the NFU would reform along the lines I suggest above but its pretty clear that is not going to happen, its just works too well, for those that do have the power to makes such changes, as farmers we have little choice or ability to make any difference to such an organisation, "getting on" in the NFU clearly involves becoming a yes man (or woman) I've seen so many really good farmers with the right ideas become useless yes men as they get sight of a paid officer gravy train position ....... twitter is littered with their poor lost, empty souls

It would not be heathy for us to only have a conservative party in UK politics, even the strongest supporters of the NFU must accept that competition / accountability is healthy

nothing to stop a farmer being a member of both NFU and UK Farmers Union if they chose of course ?
 

Clive

Staff Member
BASE UK Member
Location
Lichfield
No. Make the NFU do their job properly.
How ? .......... "make change from within" I guess ? That old chestnut

So all labour MP's should join the conservative party, pretend they agree with everything BJ says and then, when they finally get some ability to change stuff ........ be all labour again !


Not sure that works


Had I chose to "make change from within" I would have got absolutely nowhere in an organisation like the NFU - it's not designed to want change, it's designed to simply continue / persist ....... ask yourself what are they REALLY ever doing or proposing that is innovative ? or makes BIG change for UK farmers ?
 
My personal view on a union is that it is not the way to change the industry. I feel it needs a mindset change for a lot of farmers (not all, please note) and a rough plan to be drawn up by someone who has a lot of common sense and a good understanding of both business and agriculture as separate things, that the majority can follow to swing things more in our favour.

I understand that there are legislative changes that need to be made, but I don't feel that a unionist "let's protest" attitude is the way to do it.

A lot of the issues I see with our industry and the complaints around the prices we get etc. once analysed, It often seems to come down to an overall mindset change that's needed within the industry, away from the traditional ways of marketing, selling etc.

Edited to add; I'm aware this comes across as a very vague response, but hopefully I've made it clear that a union shouldn't necessary or the preferred way forward.
 

Clive

Staff Member
BASE UK Member
Location
Lichfield
Any union who leaders or members don't not have big enough ballbags (or gender Jon specific equivalents) to refuse to deliver; picket a port / supermarket / etc; or act to secure progressively better deals for the members is not worthy of existing.

I'm not suggesting some FFA style protest organisation


Just a transparently democratic body that can claim to represent 100% farmers and demand a seat at the same political table as the NFU and other lobby organisations


What i'm suggesting is IMO what the NFU should be but clearly isn't and I doubt ever will be
 

Clive

Staff Member
BASE UK Member
Location
Lichfield
My personal view on a union is that it is not the way to change the industry. I feel it needs a mindset change for a lot of farmers (not all, please note) and a rough plan to be drawn up by someone who has a lot of common sense and a good understanding of both business and agriculture as separate things, that the majority can follow to swing things more in our favour.

I understand that there are legislative changes that need to be made, but I don't feel that a unionist "let's protest" attitude is the way to do it.

A lot of the issues I see with our industry and the complaints around the prices we get etc. once analysed, It often seems to come down to an overall mindset change that's needed within the industry, away from the traditional ways of marketing, selling etc.

Edited to add; I'm aware this comes across as a very vague response, but hopefully I've made it clear that a union shouldn't necessary or the preferred way forward.

I'm very aware that lobby organisations are quickly becoming things of the past - "Digital Government" aims to listen better to democracy and give individuals better tools to represent themselves, things are changing rapidly ........ even at DEFRA !


so what Im suggesting is frankly out of date before it begins really in some respects, but the damage being done by the Yes men is becomes to great fro this industry soever recover from if we don't act soon. Red tractor is just a currently topical example of this really
 
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holwellcourtfarm

Member
Livestock Farmer
I'm open to the idea but...

  • How does one single union properly and effectively represent competing interests in UK agriculture? It's a very broad church. Just think of the livestock farmers who want cheap bedding and the arable boys who'd rather sell straw to the highest bidder, be that livestock boys or Anglian power stations. Or the NBA pushing the case for intensively reared beef being "inherently lower carbon footprint" when some of their members are extensive beef breeders.
  • What would it's purpose be? To lobby government? To represent farmers to the public? To influence academic research institutions?
  • To aid knowledge exchange?
  • To support in media work?
  • To help with legal actions?
That's just off the top of my head.

It's a bit of a "poisoned chalice".
 

Could a ‘Meat Tax’ be on the cards in the UK?

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Written by Richard Halleron from Agriland

The latest machination coming from the so-called ‘opinion formers’, who seem to have the ear of government advisors in London, is the introduction of a ‘Meat Tax’ at consumer level.

This approach, it is argued, would have the combined impact of reducing meat consumption levels (I can really see the health benefits coming through now), while also helping to reduce the overall carbon footprint of production agriculture.

What absolute drivel! In my opinion, none of this makes sense at any level. This is a scurrilous and unfounded attack on livestock farming in this part of the world.

Yet, it has to be taken seriously. I make this point because economists at Rothamsted Research have already crunched the numbers where the introduction of a ‘UK...
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