NFUs quick riposte
MR ASHDOWNS speech drew sharp criticism from the NFU. Mary James, chairman of the unions public affairs committee, said she was disappointed that the Lib-Dem leader seemed to have missed the tremendous efforts made by farmers in recent years to get as close as possible to consumers.
"I think his comments are irresponsible. What does Mr Ashdown think we have all been doing for the past six or seven years?" she asked. Farms around the country were open to the public and farmers had worked hard to establish marketing co-operatives so that they could influence how their products were sold.
And for Mr Ashdown to suggest that consumers might be buying food that contained disease or poison was outrageous.
She did, however, agree with his suggestion to set up a national long-term farming strategy covering public policy.
approach, it would need all the political parties to work together which was highly unlikely.