Bill Quan, the new Chairman of Herefordshire NFU joined the Herefordshire Conservative Business Breakfast Forum, (HCBF), as the guest speaker, at the Harewood End Inn last Friday.
Bill told the group that he and his wife Gina are first generation tenant farmers farming at Howton Farm in Pontrilas. They produce cereals, oil seeds, potatoes and rear livestock mainly sheep. It was apparently a farm no one else wanted but has grown to nearly 900 acres.
Bill explained why he took on the role of becoming the Chairman of Herefordshire NFU mainly because he felt the next two years will see the biggest challenges farming has seen since the 40’s. He also admires and respects Minette Batters, the President of the NFU, and felt he too should get involved and help the industry.
The family are heavily involved in the Natural England Higher Level Stewardship Scheme by which they deliver “Production with Protection”, commercial farming along with habitat creation and restoration. They are also passionate about education and every year welcome 20/25 school visits. By the time the children leave they understand what they are eating and have more respect for the countryside. The Quans also believe in mentoring and regularly take on students to help progress their courses.
Bill discussed climate change, the importance of soil, mental health issues in the farming community and the recent flooding. He explained how farmers should “produce more for less” and how “we are part of the solution and less of the problem”.
He also expressed his concern about the present seasonal workers scheme saying the numbers were not enough to sustain food production and his worry that the hospitality and caring sectors would suffer too.
Finally Bill said: “Our destiny is in our own hands, we have to be smart, viable, sustainable and resilient to succeed and survive”.
Anthea McIntyre, Chairman of HCBF later commented: “Bill has been such a breath of fresh air with his straight talking and passion about farming. Herefordshire farmers are fortunate to have him”.
Stephen Hay commented in his vote of thanks” Agriculture is part of the solution to the environment and Bill is so positive, extremely well informed and shows great leadership”.