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BBC Radio 4 presenter hosts BREXIT farming debate at Easton

6 March 2017

Over 80 guests attended a conference that was held at Easton and Otley College that tackled the subject of BREXIT and what it will mean to the UK farming industry.

The occasion - that was sponsored by Barclays - witnessed a lively debate that was chaired by Anna Hill from the BBC Radio 4’s Farming Today programme.

Guest speakers were Mark Suthern, the head of agriculture at Barclays, Carl Atkin, the head of research and consultancy at Terravost and Andrew Saunders, the agricultural director of Tulip and the AHDB pig group. (During proceedings, Mr Saunders admitted that he was a former student of Easton and Otley College around 40 years ago).

The speakers were then joined by Beverly Dixon (Shropshire Farms Group) and Dr Nigel Davis (head of research, development and sustainability at Muntons) for an open discussion on the topic in question.

During the event, a straw poll took place and around 60pc of attendees were still uncertain as to whether BREXIT would be a good thing or a bad think for UK farmers.

Topics that came under scrutiny included future trade agreements, the labour market, the current global political landscape, imports, exports and the need to teach more generic skills in farming across education. (For example, some farmers spoke of how they are now looking to employ maths graduates to support them in the number crunching aspect of their businesses to help get the most out of the products they are creating).

Nicola Currie is an apprenticeship employer liaison at Easton and Otley officer working closely with industry. She organised the event and said, “This event was timely in the sense that it took place less than 24 hours after the House of Lords urged the government to guarantee the rights of EU citizens currently living in the UK. (Employing labour from EU countries is hot topic in farming at the moment).

“In terms of the event itself, we had guests travelling from Bedfordshire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Suffolk and it was interesting hearing their views. Naturally we would like to thank Barclays for sponsoring this event, our guest speakers, the panel and everyone else who supported this event.”

Principal of the college, David Henley wrapped up the event by thanking everyone for attending whilst pledging to host more discussion forums like this in the future.

For those who were unable to attend, you can click on this link to see the presentation slides from Mark Suthern (Terravost) and Carl Atkin (Terravost):

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