Tuesday 27 February, 2024

In Your Field: Rachel Coates - 'Conference breaks up the busy week'

A couple of days at the NFU Conference made a change from my usual working week, it was my first time at the conference.

clock • 2 min read
In Your Field: Rachel Coates - 'Conference breaks up the busy week'

A couple of days at the NFU Conference made a change from my usual working week, it was my first time at the conference.

The North East team were highly amused at me getting lost in Birmingham, twice. It must seem like I’m a real country girl, but farming as close to cities as we do, that’s not the case.

 

I simply need to get over vanity issues and wear my distance spectacles all the time, so I can actually read signs.

 

The political aspects of the conference have been widely reported, but I’d like to correct something that has been misreported by mainstream media — the delegates didn’t ’boo’ Therese Coffey, it was essentially a collective ’ooh’ when she blamed the conference running late for the lack of time she had to answer questions. 

 

The Secretary of State’s irritability aside, the conference was excellent and I’ll definitely go again.

 

The dairy breakout session was a great opportunity to question three of the biggest processors on many topical aspects from sustainability, the Bovine TB vaccine to international markets.

 

The great British dinner was spectacular, perfectly done beef served to 1,200 people was extraordinary.

 

The special guest, female impressionist Jan Raven, mimicked Liz Truss, Theresa May, Nigella Lawson and others, obviously she hasn’t quite nailed Therese Coffey yet, but I’d like to think she’d have got a bit more material from her appearance in the conference hall the next day.

 

As always I’ve had a busy few weeks. It will be nice sometime to say it hasn’t, I doubt that will happen and that’s undeniably my own fault.

I organise my life with very little to spare, like many women in the farming sector and beyond, I take on too much. There is often a great deal of eye-rolling at home when I say what I’ve agreed to do.

 

Although I am learning and, before I take on something new, I try to offload something else, not always successfully I have to admit.

 

There are certain things that are non-negotiable, whatever the resistance. Farmers markets for instance, although a lot of hard work, they are a great time to connect with the public and, more often than not, I come home feeling it’s all worthwhile as I’ve chatted to people who seem to really appreciate what farmers do.

 

But being at the NFU Conference had a price to pay and that was me running around like the proverbial blue backsided insect to get everything in place for the first Baildon Farmers’ Market of the year.

 

It’s always good to get the first market under our belts, let’s hope farmers’ markets can weather the storms — physically and fiscally — in the coming year.

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