Labour keeps farmers in the dark

9 October 2001

‘Labour keeps farmers in the dark’

By Isabel Davies in Blackpool

SHADOW Rural Affairs Secretary Peter Ainsworth claims that the government has inadequately explained its plans for the future of farming.

Mr Ainsworth said ministers had repeatedly called for farmers to change, but had given little guidance as to what the future held for producers.

Addressing an fringe meeting at the Conservative Party conference in Blackpool, he said ministers should explain their plans for farming.

Change would be impossible unless the government opened dialogue between a wide range of interest groups, he added.

“If it doesnt take place in the corridors of power, we will make sure it takes place in the corridors of Opposition,” Mr Ainsworth said.

Shadow agriculture minister Ann Winterton told the meeting she believed that cheap food had ruined so much of what the farming industry did.

Subsidies were introduced after the war to subsidise the consumer and to keep down food prices, she said.

National Farmers Union deputy president Tim Bennett agreed there was a lack of comprehension about where farming would be in the future.

“It is no good the Secretary of State making a speech saying she doesnt like [the Common Agricultural Policy] but not coming up with any solutions.”

Mr Bennett added: “It isnt a matter of saying you dont like something, you have to get out there and come up with some ideas.”

The NFU firmly believed that the industry had to change and that farmers would have to look at doing things in a different way, he said.

But a more serious debate was necessary so that partnerships could be forged between people who could take the industry forward.


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