from Kevin Pearce, head of food chain and farm policy unit, NFU

Sir; The article about farming (‘A grave future?’, July 9, p36) alarmed and dismayed those of us who believe passionately that there is a strong and positive future for UK farming.
We face challenging times in some sectors but the analysis in your article, particularly in respect of the beef and dairy sectors, belittles and ignores the resilience of producers and their ability to understand and respond to the changing environment that they work in.
The analysis also talks about the issue of Brazilian beef and the rainforest; we agree that the issues of food miles and the environmental impact of farming elsewhere in the world are very important. However, we want our industry to develop and prosper on its own merits based on issues such as, safety, quality, assurance, traceability, locally sourced and security of supply, to name but a few.
Although we may not always be the cheapest food producers in the world, we believe that we have many points of positive differentiation that make our industry the first choice for most food consumed within the UK.
Rightly or wrongly, the main market signal for many producers has for years been support payments under the CAP. In the future their only market signal should come from the marketplace. However, they will need support from all partners in the supply chain to develop the confidence so that they can secure a market that delivers a margin to allow their businesses to prosper.
Ultimately, we need to develop a culture where trust, honesty and transparency exist in the relationships between farmers, processors, retailers and manufacturers. The NFU and its members relish this challenge and are more than happy to engage with anyone where such a relationship can develop.
We are a proud and ambitious industry that is determined to adapt. Do not underestimate us.