Farmers face some of the biggest changes to agriculture

These are the biggest changes since the Second World War says Thursfields’ new head of agriculture

Thursfields Solicitors has appointed Jon Clifford as a Director and Head of Agricultural and Rural Affairs to lead the firm’s legal advisory services to the farming community and landed estates.

A Fellow of the Agricultural Law Association, he will lead a team of lawyers able to advise on all aspects of rural issues including land ownership, tenancies, commercial property, energy and telecoms, employment, dispute resolution and wills and estates.

He is also a member of the Property Litigation Association and, along with Thursfields’ Managing Director Nick O’Hara, of the Country Landowners’ Association

Jon has lived on the Worcestershire/Herefordshire border for almost 20 years advising farmers and landowners across the Midlands and beyond.

Nick O’Hara said: “Thursfields is delighted to welcome Jon to lead our agricultural and rural affairs offering. This is an area that is going to see increased focus post-Brexit as the future of farming is revealed in coming months, and Thursfields is ready to support our clients in this sector.”

Jon said: “This is an exciting time to be joining both a fast growing law firm and taking charge of Thursfields’ legal services to the farming and rural community.

“Theresa Villiers, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has just unveiled what many believe to be the most fundamental changes seen in the UK since the 1940s.

“This is part of the changing face of agriculture and our clients expect a fast, flexible and knowledgeable response from their advisers.

“Among the many challenges facing farmers is how to help make the UK more self-sufficient, and this means all of us asking ourselves ‘where exactly does our food come from?’ I heartily support the current interest in food, its source, and the effect production is having on the environment. But how many consumers of avocados, for instance, stop to think that their lunch was probably flown here from South America; or that production of the base product of almond milk is causing major environmental issues in California?

“In this country we have grass, we have rain, and we have sunshine. Natural resources the envy of most other countries. We also have some of the highest food productions standards in the world. There are huge pressures on agriculture from a wide variety of lobbies and we have to find a way through that is both sustainable for the environment and economical for farmers too.”

Jon cited a recent speech on zero carbon farming by Professor Richard Pickard, visiting professor at the Royal Agricultural University and Emeritus professor at the University of Cardiff, who provides scientific advice for the communications media, government and a variety of institutions.

” Professor Pickard told delegates at the recent Pershore Conference that many plant-based proteins may be imported to the UK with substantial food miles, adding to carbon emissions. Some popular plant-based alternatives are packed with artificial ingredients, making them unhealthier than natural, lean cuts of meat.”

Jon added: “The challenge to the farming industry is not only to work towards zero carbon but also to continue to make the case for UK farming and the benefits of eating ‘local. How is it helping the planet if healthy, high quality, locally produced food is passed over in favour of something shipped halfway round the World, and where the method of production falls way below the standards insisted upon at home?’.

“Add to this housing pressures on some areas of the green belt and there is clearly much to be done to reinforce the case for sustainable UK farming.”

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