The Tenant Farmers Association has urged Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his new DEFRA secretary Hilary Benn to re-engage with the farming community.

Speaking at this year’s Royal Show on Sunday (1 July), TFA National Chairman Reg Haydon said: “Farmers will remember the past administration for its broken promises and Mr Brown must learn from this.

“In his first press conference, on the steps of 10 Downing Street, Mr Brown promised to make changes in light of voters’ concerns – that must include the concerns of farmers.” 

Mr Haydon said the Labour Party’s 1997 General Election Manifesto promised to deal with the burden of regulation on the industry but over Mr Blair’s 10 years in office that burden has got worse. 

“There was also the promise not to repeat the mistakes of the Conservatives in handling BSE in any future disease outbreak yet the handling of the foot-and-mouth disease epidemic in 2001, particularly in its early days, led to mayhem in the industry and the wider rural economy and the ongoing shambles that is the government’s policy on bovine TB is shameful” said Mr Haydon.

“Mr Brown and Mr Benn must appreciate the fundamental importance of farming to our future development and security as a nation. 

“If climate change, whatever its direction, is going to make it more difficult for some parts of the world to produce food we should be ensuring that we have an industry that can feed our population long-term. 

“Current government policy which is causing a major exodus from the industry is short-sighted in the extreme.  If our supplies of energy, particularly oil, continue to come from parts of the world which at best are unfriendly and at worst blatantly hostile to the west in general and Britain in particular, shouldn’t we be doing more to encourage our farmers to produce alternatives that ensure our long term energy security?”

For more stories from the Royal Show see our special report page.

.