Dairy farmer named shadow Defra minister

Dairy farmer Lord John Grantchester has been appointed shadow Defra minister as Labour completes its front bench team following the election of Jeremy Corbyn as party leader.

Lord Grantchester joins Alex Cunningham (MP for Stockton North), Nick Smith (MP for Blaenau Gwent) and Baroness Maggie Jones who will also serve in the shadow Defra team.

The shadow team will be led by Bristol East MP Kerry McCarthy, who was appointed shadow Defra secretary earlier this week.

A Cheshire dairy farmer, Lord Grantchester was chairman of Dairy Farmers of Britain when the farmer-owned co-operative went into receivership in 2009.

He was president of the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers from 2001-2003 and has held posts with the Country Land & Business Association and Royal Agricultural Society of England.

Lord Grantchester’s appointment as a shadow Defra minister means he will be expected to work closely with Ms McCarthy, a vegan who has described the livestock sector as dirty and cruel.

See also: I can work with farmers, says vegan Defra shadow

Ms McCarthy, who has refused to consume meat, dairy products or eggs for more than 20 years, has also described the dairy industry as “artificially forcing loads more milk out of cows”.

Other members of the Labour Defra team have much less experience than Lord Grantchester when it comes to farming.

Mr Cunningham was elected as an MP in 2010.

Before entering parliament, he worked as a journalist and public relations consultant.

He was also a local councillor and cabinet member for Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council.

Mr Smith, who was also elected to parliament in 2010, has served as a member of the public accounts committee, responsible for scrutinising government spending.

His website lists his main interests in parliament as being home affairs, work and pensions, transport and defence issues.

Baroness Jones was made a life peer in 2006.

She was previously director of policy and public affairs at the trade union Unison and a member of the Labour Party’s National Executive Committee from 1993 to 2005.

Baroness Jones was chairman of the Labour Party from 2000 to 2001.

See more