27 November 2001
Crops conf: Beckett snubs growers

By Tom Allen-Stevens

MARGARET BECKETT has attended the full morning sessions of the Crops Conference on Tuesday (27 November) without making a single comment.

The Margaret Beckett in question is a life-size cardboard cut-out of the real Rural Affairs minister.

Her mute representation, said Crops editor Debbie Beaton “would probably benefit arable businesses more than if she had attended in the flesh”.

The minister was invited in August to present the keynote speech of the Crops annual conference, supported by Bayer.

But Mrs Becketts office declined the invitation 15 days before the date of the conference.

Indeed no Defra ministers could take her place – or any senior Government officials.

“A very sad reflection of the Governments view of the arable industry,” said Ms Beaton.

Crops is petitioning Mrs Beckett to put profitability into Defras sustaininability objectives.

Ms Beaton chided the Government for not applying for agrimoney in Brussels and more recently for the “fiasco” over IACS cheques for English arable growers.

“These are classic examples of the way the UK industry is continually disadvantaged versus its European counterparts,” she added.

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