Tributes are pouring in for Jim Paice, who lost his job as farm minister in a government reshuffle on Tuesday (4 September).

Mr Paice, who had served as a Tory frontbencher since 1994, was replaced as farm minister by Lib Dem MP David Heath. The widely unexpected move took the farming industry by surprise.

Just hours before, Mr Paice had opened the Livestock 2012 event at the Birmingham NEC, learning of his fate in a call from Prime Minister David Cameron while still at the trade show.

NFU president Peter Kendall said: “Jim knew the issues. He had been involved in farming all his life. He brought some credibility to the job. And he knew whether policies were practical or not and wanted to help farmers farm, rather than be form-fillers.

“There was good tension within DEFRA with Jim Paice because he questioned some of the regulation,” added Mr Kendall. “What I would like to say is a big, big thank you for going the extra mile and working hard on behalf of the farming industry.”

Carl Padget, president of the British Veterinary Association said: “The BVA has enjoyed a very good relationship with DEFRA with Caroline Spelman and Jim Paice at the helm. They both showed a huge amount of respect for the scientific views and expertise of the veterinary profession.

“The bold policy decision taken on bovine TB underlined their understanding of the importance of veterinary scientific evidence, as well as the needs of the farming community and we are grateful they led on such a difficult political issue.”

George Dunn, president of the Tenant Farmers’ Association, said: “It is a great shame that Jim Paice lost his DEFRA ministerial post. He was doing a great job. He was a tremendous force within DEFRA and he will certainly be an extremely sad loss.”

Tributes to Mr Paice were also paid on the social media website Twitter.

Scottish rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead, said: “We had our differences but I enjoyed working with DEFRA farming minister Jim Paice MP and wish him well – his exit will surprise [the] Scots sector.”

Farmer Mark Spencer, the Tory MP for Nottingham Sherwood, said: “Really sad to hear Jim Paice is leaving DEFRA – a minister who really understood the issues farming faces and worked hard to try and fix them.”

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