The British government should look to Bord Bia’s Origin Green programme when devising a strategy for the UK’s farm and food sectors, according to National Farmers Union (NFU) president Minette Batters.

Batters comments came as she lambasted the performance of Boris Johnson’s government in her keynote address to NFU’s annual conference in Birmingham on Tuesday.

She accused the Tory government of abandoning the country’s farmers and undermining the sector’s potential by following a contradictory policy agenda.

Irish experience

Batters contrasted the UK experience with that of Ireland.

“Look at Ireland, where Origin Green is a fantastic success story.

“The Irish government has been the catalyst for convening the food chain to work in partnership with [farmers] to create a sustainable plan for Irish agriculture, which delivers domestically and globally,” she told the conference.

The NFU leader described the ongoing problems in the British pig industry – where 40,000 animals have had to be culled, while 200,000 have backed up on farms – as an “utter disgrace and a disaster”.

“This is down to government’s poorly designed change to immigration policy and what I can only say appears to be their total lack of understanding of how food production works and what it needs,” Batters maintained.

She said the farm sector’s difficulties were being exacerbated by an absence of consistency in terms of agriculture, trade and environmental policy.

Batters claimed the British government was raising the bar for environmental standards at home but pursuing trade deals which support lower standards overseas.

The NFU leader said UK farmers needed “certainty, commitment and consistency” from their government.