Turkey farmer re-elected to chair Essex NFU

Essex NFU chairman Patrick Wreathall, who farms at Margaretting, near Chelmsford.

Essex NFU chairman Patrick Wreathall, who farms at Margaretting, near Chelmsford. - Credit: Archant

Arable and turkey farmer Patrick Wreathall has been re-elected for a second two-year term as chairman of Essex National Farmers’ Union (NFU).

Patrick farms in a family partnership with his uncle Alan, his wife Jane, and sons Duncan and Tom near Margaretting, Chelmsford.

Together they farm 800 acres of combinable crops, some of it on a contract basis, and rear more than 30,000 turkeys annually for the catering market. They also rear an additional 6000 turkeys for the traditional farm fresh market at Christmas and run a DIY livery yard.

“I love farming in Essex. It’s the only job that I’ve ever wanted to do and I count myself very lucky,” said Patrick.

“We run a progressive, mixed family farm and hopefully that gives me a good understanding of the challenges faced by a wide range of other farmers in Essex. I’m looking forward to representing NFU members in the county for another two years.”

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Patrick, 60, is chairman of the Chelmsford and Hanningfield Agricultural Society and former branch chairman of Chelmsford NFU. He chairs the local farm watch scheme and sees rural crime as a key issue.

“We know that police budgets are coming under increased pressure so it’s vital that farmers do what we can to help ourselves and the police. That includes taking sensible security measures and sharing information within the farm watch network,” he said.

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He is urging farmers to get involved in the debate around Britain’s future in Europe before the crucial EU referendum is held.

“This is a major concern for all of us involved with agriculture and, at the moment, there are still so many unknowns. We need much more information about the implications for farming if Britain does vote to leave,” he said.

Patrick said that other priorities for the NFU included ensuring there was a better system in place for farmers applying for the Basic Payment Scheme in 2016 and securing changes to the new Countryside Stewardship Scheme.

“Farmers have a good track record of looking after the environment and we don’t want to lose the many gains that have been made,” he said.

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