FW readers outline their priorities

FARMERS HAVE delivered a strong message to the new government outlining the agricultural concerns and issues they want tackling.

Readers of FARMERS WEEKLY have compiled a list of the issues they want prioritised by the Labour government now it has won a third term.

The list has been drawn up using the results of a FW survey which was answered by more than 2000 readers.

FW will send the full results to the new DEFRA team in the hope that it will guide them in their future decision-making.

The survey found the issues that concerned farmers most were red tape and the power imbalance between buyers and suppliers.

Ninety-seven per cent of respondents said they agreed that the government should focus on cutting red tape.

Ninety-five per cent of those questioned said they also thought the new government must find ways to make trading relationships between retailers, processors and producers more equitable.

Other key issues identified by readers included more support for the biofuel industry, action to tackle the growing problem of bovine tuberculosis and moves to reduce the levels of food imports.

Commenting on the results, Nick Way, director of policy at the Country Land & Business Association, said there was massive pressure on producers caused by the power imbalance between buyers and suppliers.

“Until the Office of Fair Trading comes up with a better idea we would like to see the introduction of an ombudsman.

“As yet we haven’t had a specific response from the OFT as to why it isn’t taking up our idea.”

On the issue of red tape he warned producers that cross-compliance regulations weren’t going to go away.

“But we should review how existing regulations are formulated and implemented. We also need a brake on the introduction of new legislation.”

Martin Howarth, NFU policy director, acknowledged farmers were concerned about imports, but indicated that the government would not introduce barriers to reduce imports.

“Barriers are falling all around the world, not going up,” he said.

“The key will be to persuade the consumer to buy more home-produced food and the industry needs to do more to help itself.

“But to do so we need better labelling and some encouragement from the government to help promote schemes like the Red Tractor.

“There could also be a stronger mindset from the government to help promote British produce.” 


*For more detail about the survey results see FARMERS WEEKLY (May 6).

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