In the run up to the General Election next year the National Farmers Union (NFU) has published a manifesto which supports growth in British farming. Louise Baldock, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Stockton South and Paul Brannen, Labour Member of the European Parliament for the North East met members of the NFU at a farm in Maltby. The meeting covered a broad range of issues affecting farming and rural businesses in general.
Paul and Louise met County Chairman and local Parish Councillor Martin Lowcock and talked through the issues raised in the NFU general election manifesto. Paul is a member of the European Agriculture Committee and the meeting formed part of a series of regional visits which enable him to accurately represent the region at a European level.
The NFU manifesto has a number of priorities: investing for growth; protecting animal and plant health; securing knowledge and technology; building fair, safe and secure food chains; and caring for our countryside.
The meeting covered a range of issues, including how people have become distanced from farming and food production. A survey conducted last year showed that a third of UK primary school pupils thought cheese is made from plants. In response farmers encourage organised farm visits for schools and there is a national scheme ‘Open Farm Sunday’ which helps to connect people to local farms.
Louise Baldock said “Stockton South is a very varied place with urban, suburban and rural communities and it is important to me to meet residents from each area to understand their different issues. I enjoyed the visit and found it very useful. I was interested to hear how farmers are trying to reconnect the industry with local people and offered to talk to local schools about considering visits to farms. I also committed to raise awareness with the police about patterns of rural crime and farm based crime in particular and how we can tackle this together”.
Paul Brannen MEP said "The EU is a central part of the agriculture industry in the UK and it’s important to meet farmers who are on the frontline of putting food on our tables. Hearing what people have to say allows me to represent the North East region better on the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee. It’s important that we show leadership in Europe and engage with our partners.
Laurie Norris of the NFU said “ It was is good to see both Louise and Paul out on farm to discuss the wide range of issues affecting farmers at the moment. From rural crime and fly tipping to the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, to agriculture in the school curriculum, our members were pleased to be able to inform the debate and get their views across.