International speakers highlight 'huge opportunities'

Two speakers with an international perspective painted a rosy future for UK food and farming at the NFU conference.

New Zealand high commissioner to the UK and former MP Sir Lockwood Smith said: "Led by China, there will be a growth in the number of middle-class consumers from 500 million to three billion. There are huge opportunities. New Zealand can't produce enough to meet growing demand, we don't have enough land, so we will need to export technology too. The UK is well placed here - you should stop thinking of us as competitors and explore the opportunities to work together to meet global demand."

As one of just six countries without a trade agreement with the EU, "New Zealand risks becoming distant from Europe, and that troubles us," he added. "But New Zealand could be a useful partner for Europe, a trade agreement could benefit us all, but the longer we delay, the more likely the opportunities will be seized by others."

Investment expert Jim Rogers told farmers: "You have been in the wrong place at the wrong time, but all that is about to change. Agriculture is becoming exciting, as food prices will have to go up. Yet the average age of a US farmer is 58, and we have more students graduating in PR than in agriculture. The opportunities are there. But in the UK, until you get rid of Brussels you are in a bind."

Smith added: "You need to make sure politicians don't muck up these opportunities for you."

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