15 June 2001
Gill has ‘good meeting’ with Beckett

By FWi staff

NATIONAL Farmers Union president Ben Gill says he has had a successful first meeting with government minister Margaret Beckett.

Mr Gill met the newly-appointed Secretary of State for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) on Friday (15 June).

He said: “I have had a very good first meeting with Mrs Beckett.

“We are both urgently committed to achieving a sustainable recovery plan for farming after more than three years of desperate farm incomes and foot-and-mouth disease.”

Mr Gill said Mrs Beckett stressed her determination to eradicate the disease as swiftly as possible, and that the union will be working on a recovery plan.

“On a broader front, we need to develop further a strategy for agriculture to bring back profitability within a quality environment and rural countryside.

“We look forward to working closely with Mrs Beckett and her team.”

DEFRA replaced the Ministry of Agriculture, which was accused of being too close to farmers, in the aftermath of the General Election on 7 June.

Agriculture must now jostle for attention alongside food, rural development, animal welfare, wildlife and environmental policy in the new department.

The farming lobby is striving to ensure that agriculture remains high on DEFRAs agenda for rural revitalisation.

But in her first announcement on foot-and-mouth, Mrs Beckett signalled that farmers concerns will not be allowed to dominate her new vision for rural Britain.

Pointedly, she stressed that the impact of the virus had not just been felt by farmers, but also by other sectors of the rural community.

FREE NEWS UPDATE
CLICK HERE to receive FWis FREE new daily email newsletter to keep up-to-date with the latest news of foot-and-mouth and other farming-related stories