13 September 2001
Start listening, tenants tell Defra

By FWi staff

THE Tenant Farmers Association has said ministers must start listening and acting upon the concerns of grassroots family farmers.

Speaking on the opening day of the Royal Cornwall show (13 September), TFA chief executive George Dunn said it was time that the rhetoric was abandoned.

“In farming you expect the odd bad year, but the current slump, affecting all sectors dates back to the middle of the last decade and displays no signs of abating,” he said.

“Farmers and their families are hurting and are disillusioned by the rhetoric they hear from Westminster and Whitehall.

“They need politicians who are prepared to listen to and act upon their concerns.”

Mr Dunn said the government claimed it had a new approach to rural policy but there was little to distinguish it from past governments who viewed farming as a problem.

He also repeated his doubts about the ability of the Policy Commission on Food and Farming to deliver a coherent strategy for the way ahead.

“It has established a Commission with a very small number of mainly single-issue interests and given it only four months to come up with the goods,” he said.

“The farming community feel alienated from a process that could have a major impact on the future of their family lives.”

Defra secretary Margaret Beckett was due to attend the show on Thursday but has been forced to stay in London to attend emergency cabinet meetings.

A spokesman said the minister was hoping that her diary would free up enough to allow her to attend on Saturday (15 September).