23 November 2000
Brown meets farm leaders

By FWi staff

FARM leaders are considering their response after meeting agriculture minister Nick Brown and government officials at an industry forum in London.

Before going into the meeting, the National Farmers Union said it would call for more help from the government to reduce the regulatory burden on producers.

NFU president Ben Gill said he also wanted the introduction of a code of practice to govern the relationship between supermarkets and farmers.

He added: “Farmers and growers are desperate to see the legally binding code set up to provide more security in their dealings with supermarkets.”

It remains to be seen whether NFU is satisfied with the governments response. An official statement from Mr Gill is expected to be released soon.

Speaking at the forum, Mr Brown told farmers he was introducing three new taskforces, which will examine ways of boosting Britains ailing farm sector.

The taskforces will examine the cost of farm inputs, the milk supply chain and the options open to hill farmers, he said.

The input taskforce is expected to look at ways of reducing the cost to farmers of agricultural inputs such as fertilisers and pesticides.

The milk group will examine ways to get greater efficiency into the supply chain. The hill group will look at ways hill farmers can diversify.

Mr Brown also emphasised that government plans are still on course to cut red tape and help farmers become more diversified and market-oriented.

But pig farmers were left waiting for news that the government has secured European Union approval for a 66 million restructuring scheme for their industry.

The National Pig Association said ministers appeared to be arguing with Brussels over details of the scheme rather than pushing it through.

Mike Sheldon, NPA chief executive, said: “We are still hopeful it will be resolved. But I cant see the application being successful by the New Year.”