James Airey combined his love of both farming and politics when he joined the NFU North West team as a county adviser in Cumbria alongside Helen Forrester.

JUNE has started with some much-needed warmth and the grass has finally grown here in Furness. Hopefully, we will not be working from home much longer with the vaccination rollout going so well.

I have just been listening to one of our national NFU online forums about education and it was great to hear how our education team are engaging with schools across the country.

We also heard from farmers who are speaking to local schools and pupils about agriculture and the environment.

However, the most positive contribution in my mind was from a teacher who had invited a local farmer to go and speak to her class.

She spoke of how farming cuts across so many curriculum subjects, from geography to maths and science and how engaged the young people where when the farmer spoke.

It struck me that we need more of this. The anti-farming, ultra-green brigade is simply allowed to churn out their propaganda to young people without them getting the full facts.

Our industry is leading on the environmental agenda. We produce top quality traceable welfare friendly food, so we have everything to gain by making sure the next generation are aware of this. We might even encourage a few younger folks to start on the farming ladder.

In other news, our President Minette Batters has been doing a sterling job engaging with MPs and law makers on the proposed Australia free trade deal. Whilst we as an industry want to trade with the rest of the world and do it well, we do need our government to understand that safeguards need to be put in place to ensure our businesses can thrive for generations to come. It only makes sense that we apply the same high standards we adhere to, to any imported food. With the focus now so heavily on carbon reduction and food miles, surely the Government would not want tonnes of cheap food that does not meet our standards arriving from the other side of the world?Although to be fair this is a balancing act, and we need to open up the world markets for our produce now we have left the EU.The devil as they say will be in the detail of any deal, but this is massively important as many other countries will be watching the content and will want the same concessions.

James called time on a 23 year political career which began when he led the Conservative Group on Lancaster City Council for 10 years, before leading the Conservative group on South Lakeland District Council for a short while and then finally leading the Conservative Group on Cumbria County Council for eight years.