21 September 2001
Farm lobby ready for conferences

By Isabel Davies

FARMERS leaders are putting the final touches to their plans to lobby MPs at the annual round of party political conferences.

The National Farmers Union (NFU) and Country Land and Business Association (CLA) are set to hold fringe meetings at all three conferences.

The Liberal Democrats plan to hold a “Rural Future” debate on the last day of their conference, which starts in Bournemouth on Sunday (23 September).

Ideas generated by what the Lib-Dems are calling a “consultative session” will then be fed through into future policy, said a party official.

The Labour conference is in Brighton from 30 September to 4 October.

NFU vice-president Michael Paske said the union would use the conference to hand the government a petition calling for tighter controls on meat imports.

“We intend to make it clear to government that the industry and the public are no longer prepared to accept the huge threat posed by lax controls at border.”

The Conservative conference is in Blackpool from 8-11 October.

Tory MP Peter Ainsworth will make his maiden conference speech as Shadow Rural Affairs Secretary at the venue.

The CLA plans meetings at all three conferences, where they will share a platform with the Countryside Agency and the Environment Agency.

CLA leaders will debate the future of rural areas with relation to the countryside, agriculture and the environment.

Protestors are remaining tight-lipped about whether they will demonstrate outside the Labour conference following the recent attacks on New York.

David Handley, chairman of Farmers For Action, refused to disclose whether the organisation would have a presence in Brighton.

“There could be reservations regarding the situation with America and we have to see how that escalates,” he said.

“But I am not discounting that something could take place.”

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