16 May 2001
Labour to abolish agriculture ministry

By Johann Tasker

LABOUR has pledged to abolish the Ministry of Agriculture and set up a Department of Rural Affairs if it is re-elected for a second term in office.

The promise is contained in the Labour Partys manifesto which was launched by Prime Minister Tony Blair in Birmingham on Wednesday (16 May).

“A new Department for Rural Affairs will bring a joined-up approach to government policy,” agriculture minister Nick Brown told FARMERS WEEKLY.

It will recognise “the close links between farming, food, the wider rural economy and the countryside environment,” Mr Brown added.

The new department will have responsibility for agriculture and incorporate rural aspects of the governments environmental policy.

The news will dismay many farmers, who believe their voice will be diluted if agricultural policy falls under a department with other responsibilities.

The National Farmers Union has said recently that farming matters should remain the responsibility of the Ministry of Agriculture.

However, the Country Land and Business Association, which represents landowners, believes farming should be integrated with other rural policies.

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