What we do
The Commercial Farmers Group promotes competitive and resilient UK agriculture producing safe, affordable and sustainable goods (eg food, fibre, energy) to meet the needs of customers, consumers and the environment. We aim to produce these goods with reducing direct payments alongside appropriate and proportionate regulation, with public money primarily directed towards the delivery of public goods. In the long term, with production decoupled from subsidy and excessive regulation, farmers would be better-placed to compete in a global marketplace.
The Group seeks to maintain membership at around 30, with members playing an active and participatory role in attending meetings and responding to consultations and reports. Its principles are:
- it is non political
- it has a core invited membership although guests are welcome
- members represent all major commercial enterprises and regions in UK agriculture and horticulture, plus academic and financial worlds.
In 1998, concern about a decline in the state of UK farming and growing stimulated the formation of the Commercial Farmers Group. A group of leading farmers and growers, with a commercial track record across a full range of enterprises, met to discuss a shared vision – that farming profitability should be vital for the whole economy and essential if farmers were to maintain a sustainable rural environment.
It was considered important to counter some of the misconceptions widely held about farming and farmers and to try to adjust national Agricultural Policy to one that recognised the importance of commercial success, using an evidenced-based rationale. It was therefore decided there was a role for the group to talk to politicians and the media about the realities of UK agriculture and horticulture, basing the dialogue on personal experience. The group also agreed to finance and produce – when necessary – papers to illustrate its thinking. So the Commercial Farmers Group was born. It has developed and changed over the years but its key principles have been maintained.
How we work
The CFG acts as a think tank and ‘nudger’. It does not cover ground already being handled by other farming organisations such as NFU, CLA and TFA, but identifies areas of strategic importance that need addressing.
It meets twice a year – in Spring and Autumn – but between these, any work is carried out through small specialist meetings using the help and relevant experience of all members.
Over the years, the CFG has carried out detailed investigation into several major subject areas such as ‘National Food Security in the Global Market’ and ‘A new Vision for Agricultural Science and R&D’. The resulting reports have been distributed in print and through the website, but most importantly, they have been the basis for personal contacts with government and opposition parties, the media and a wide range of other people in influential positions.