Tag Archives: farming

Food strategy for England is a recipe to make you sick

Reading the government’s much vaunted food strategy released on Monday, I was remined of the school dinners of my youth. Bland. At times lumpy. And flavourless and unsatisfying. The only way you could eat the main course was with an unhealthy dose of salt, though the deserts were usually sprinkled with sugar. There are no restrictions on salt or sugar then (late fifties and early sixties) and there are to be none now.

Boris Johnson’s true instincts were made clear 16 years ago when, as shadow education spokesman, he praised parents who defied healthy eating moves: “If I were in charge, I would get rid of Jamie Oliver and tell people to eat what they liked.” He is now in charge and he has all but dismissed another chef, Henry Dimbleby, whose government commissioned report on a National Food Strategy recommended expanding provision of free school meals, a 30 per cent reduction in the amount of meat we eat and taxes on sugar and salt. But although Johnson seemed to be more interested in obesity after he caught Covid-19, the food strategy published on Monday shows he doesn’t have the stomach for dealing with it.

Faced with criticism at the weekend after the report was leaked last Friday, Boris Johnson said the solution to was not to “start whacking new taxes” but “to eat less”. The era of nudge policies seems long gone.

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Farron: Farmers at sharp end of cost of living crisis need support

Writing in The House yesterday, Tim Farron said:

British farming communities are a crucial cog in the cost of living fighting machine. But farming families themselves are facing an even more acute cost of living emergency.

He said input costs are spiralling making crops and livestock more expensive to produce. In 12 months, the price of animal feed has shot up by 60 per cent. In some cases, fertiliser prices have quadrupled because production uses gas. Twelve months ago, a tonne of ammonium nitrate fertiliser cost £280 – it now costs £1,000.

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Federal Policy Committee launches Food and Farming Policy Working Group

The decision by Federal Policy Committee to launch a Food and Farming Policy Working Group comes at a time when food security is back on the global agenda for the first time in maybe three decades. The Russian invasion of Ukraine came at a point where grain prices were already causing problems in lower income importing countries. Last week WTO Director General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said that the conflict could cause widespread hunger. Countries such as Egypt and Sudan are already struggling for supplies. With Russia also the world’s main exporter of nitrogen fertiliser, input costs have risen even faster than …

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Farron & Morgan: We’re the party that backs British farmers

The Lib Dems are gearing up to win over farmers in the May elections when eyes will be on the blue walls of rural heartlands in places like Somerset, Herefordshire and Westmorland – key Lib Dem, Conservative battlegrounds in May.

The Liberal Democrats have put the Conservatives’ former rural heartlands on notice at their conference this weekend. It comes as the party has passed sweeping reform aimed at targeting the farming community that is “fed up with being taken for granted by the Government”.

The push to win the farming community comes after the North Shropshire by-election which caused a political earthquake in true blue Shropshire.

Alongside the “Back British Farmers” party policy reform the Liberal Democrats have also launched specialised farmers campaigning packs for local Lib Dems to gain support from farmers and paint true blue rural heartlands in orange diamonds.

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Trade deal with Australia will hit our farmers

Tim Farron has warned that farmers are being “sold down the river” by the Conservatives, after it emerged the government’s own impact assessment found the Australia deal will cause a £94m hit to the farming, forestry and fishing industries. There is also an expected £225 million hit to the semi-processed food sector, such as tinned foods.

The Liberal Democrats are demanding that MPs are given a vote on the Australia deal so they can stand up for the interests of British farmers. It comes following the party’s by-election win in North Shropshire during which concerns over the impacts of government’s trade deals on local farmers were a significant issue. The deal is likely to hit small farmers, especially hill farmers hardest.

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Tim Farron proposes bill to protect farmers from poor trade deals

The Lib Dems have proposed new legislation to protect Welsh farmers from being undercut by food trade deals that do not meet the UK’s environment and animal welfare standards.

A private member’s bill from Spokesperson for Rural Affairs Tim Farron MP would require the government’s Trade and Agriculture Commission to assess the impact of any new trade deal on UK farmers, and guarantee that MPs had the final say on trade deals initiated by the government. This would include an assessment of the impact of new trade deals on farming communities in each region and nation of the UK.

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Tim Farron on the “historic betrayal” of British farmers by Australia trade deal

Tim Farron slates the proposed trade deal with Australia in an article in The House:

So often we see Conservative MPs and ministers take to social media to tell us how much they love British farming and how they think it’s the best in the world.

But their plans for a free trade deal with Australia show that when push comes to shove they seem to have no problem whatsoever with throwing British farmers under a bus.

As a liberal I am firm believer in free trade – but only as long as it’s fair trade.

Australian animal welfare standards are lower than the UK’s which makes for lower production costs and cheaper produce. Therefore, the only way that small British family farms could compete would be to lower their own standards – which nobody except the government wants them to do.

A trade deal on these terms would be a historic betrayal of British farming and will set a dangerous precedent. If Australian farmers are given the green light to undercut British farmers then surely it’s inevitable that the government will allow Canadian, New Zealand and American farmers to do the same.

And not only is the Government betraying farmers, but going against the public’s wishes too:

A survey from the consumer watchdog Which? found that 94% of people think it’s important to maintain existing food standards, while 81% were uncomfortable eating beef reared using growth hormones – a practice which is widespread in Australian farming.

So why is the Government doing this?

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Why the Liberal Democrats campaigning to back British Farmers

Liberal Democrat agricultural spokesperson Tim Farron explains why his party is launching a campaign to Back British Farmers.

British farmers have been let down by the Conservatives. They’ve been promised that British standards will not be undermined, yet this hasn’t been guaranteed in law.

They’ve been promised that levels of funding will be maintained, yet the transition will see huge amounts of income lost.

And the Government is still expecting our farmers to be the stewards of our landscape, and work with us to cut emissions and help maintain and improve our natural environment – but if they’re not careful there won’t be any farmers left.

Family farmers are the backbone of our countryside, and that’s why the Liberal Democrats are launching a campaign to ‘Back British Farmers.’

Protect

Alongside launching this campaign, I am introducing a Ten Minute Rule Bill in Parliament to create a new environmental and agricultural regulator, to better protect our farmers and our natural environment.

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What is the future of the farming industry in the UK?

Although I come originally from a city called Lublin, in the South-East part of Poland, as a child, I spent a lot time visiting my cousins and grandparents’ in relatively large village close to a city called Rzeszow. I remember Polish harvest, I remember watching my uncle, my grandmothers’ brother, who used to leave the house very early in the morning and who was coming back home very late; often tired but also happy, as the job enabled him to feel closely connected with nature. 

Looking back, I think that farming has been always strongly rooted in the “working culture” of the Polish nation. Today, the situation has changed as young people move to cities to seek and enhance their life opportunities. I remember how hard everyone had to work to feed their families and earn a decent (?) living. My mum tells me that when she was a child, before going to school, she also had to support her parents with e.g. feeding the cows or cleaning the stable. I also remember visiting my auntie in Italy, who was working on the farm. It really was a hard job. I have it easy these days, don’t I? 

I’ve recently come across a very interesting article published in Emerging Europe about the impact of Brexit on UK farming industry. I often wondered what will happen to some sections of the economy when the transition period ends? It is good news that the UK government has increased to 30,000 the number of visas to seasonal workers, who will be able to come to Britain for up to 6 months. Unfortunately, this is where the good news end. This new ‘visa arrangement’ comes with a heavy price. Each work permit will cost £244, which for many interested individuals might be simply too expensive. What is even more interesting is that citizens from some countries e.g. Turkey or Macedonia will pay less (£55) than seasonal workers from other countries e.g. Romania, Bulgaria or Slovenia. Reason? Some countries are not members of the Council of Europe’s Social Chapter. 

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4 November 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Attempts to undermine US democratic process must be condemned by UK Government
  • Fixing test and trace must be priority for Government during national lockdown
  • Tories have betrayed their promise to protect British farmers

Attempts to undermine US democratic process must be condemned by UK Government

The Liberal Democrats have warned any attempts to undermine the democratic process in the US must be condemned by the UK Government.

The call comes in response to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab failing to condemn Donald Trump’s incorrect claims of victory in the US election.

Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs spokesperson Layla Moran said:

We must not come to any premature conclusion about the election result, regardless of what the President or his campaign are saying.

Now is the time for peace and patience in the US, and for trust in the democratic process.

Any attempt to undermine that must be condemned by the UK Government and the international community in the strongest terms.

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29 June 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Govt must make mental health support available to health and care workers
  • New Trade and Agriculture Commission must be a “watchdog with teeth” – Farron
  • Govt must stop spending money on measures that don’t prevent crime
  • Govt must make more help available for people and businesses in Leicester

Govt must make mental health support available to health and care workers

Responding to reports that Labour have announced a “Care for Carers” plan, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

Over the past months the Liberal Democrats have called on the Government to ramp up mental health support for health and care staff. It is

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26 November 2019 – (most of) today’s press releases

  • Lib Dem policies would mean 600,000 fewer children in poverty
  • Lib Dems: Barnier comments show Johnson is lying to the country
  • Johnson’s Brexit Plans Disastrous for Welsh Farmers

Lib Dem policies would mean 600,000 fewer children in poverty

A report by the Resolution Foundation has found the Liberal Democrats’ policies would mean 600,000 fewer children in poverty by 2023-24, making it the most progressive of the three main parties.

The report also found child poverty risks reaching a record high under Conservative plans.

Liberal Democrat Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Tim Farron commented:

This report is a damning indictment of the Tories’ heartless welfare policy, which is

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30 July 2019 – today’s press releases

Boris’ no-deal spells disaster for farmers

Commenting on Boris Johnson’s visit to Wales today, Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron said:

It would appear that Conservative aides have finally dusted off a map, given Boris Johnson the nametag for their candidate and pointed him to Brecon and Radnorshire.

This last minute quickdash visit is symbolic of just how much the Conservatives have taken local people for granted.

People deserve better than the Tories’ half baked plan to crash the UK out of the EU without a deal and thereby lumping farmers with an eye watering 40% tariff on Welsh lamb.

By voting Liberal Democrat on

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Radical yet practical ways to improve food production

The RSA Food, Farming and Countryside Commission has published its final report, setting out radical yet practical ways to improve food production in the face of current challenges. They say

The actions we take in the next ten years, to stop ecosystems collapse, to recover and regenerate nature and to restore people’s health and wellbeing are now critical.

Our Future in the Land makes fifteen recommendations. First, under the headline “Healthy food is every body’s business”, they suggest a greater commitment is needed to growing our own food using sustainable agricultural practices. Increasing UK food production would help reconnect people to nature and boost all of our health and well-being. Further, community food plans should be established, bringing people together to meet their area’s needs.

The second headline, “Farming is a force for change, unleashing a fourth agricultural revolution driven by public values” includes recommendations such as establishing a National Agroecology Development Bank and formulating a ten-year transition plan to fully sustainable farming by 2030. In addition, the report highlights the role of farmers, saying that innovation by farmers should receive more backing and that every farmer should have access to advice through farmer support networks.

The report includes reference to the need to implement the ten elements of Agroecology as set out by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization. These were developed by the UN to achieve Zero Hunger and other Sustainable Development Goals. I’m keen on the promoting the Circular and solidarity economy, to

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16 July 2019 – the overnight press release

Lib Dems: Govt must stop inaction to protect British farmers and the planet

Responding to the RSA Food, Farming & Countryside Commission report outlining a transition to a more sustainable food system and a new deal for the rural economy, Liberal Democrat Environment Spokesperson, Alistair Carmichael, said:

Farming has a vital role to play in tackling the climate emergency and reversing the tragic loss of biodiversity. This report presents tangible steps to help transform our farming industry to one that works with the environment to produce sustainable, healthy food for the future.

Farmers must be placed at the heart of

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No Deal catastrophic for livestock farmers

Hot off the Lib Dem press, pointing out the devastating effects of a No Deal to farmers:

Alistair Carmichael, Liberal Democrat DEFRA Spokesperson, today challenged the Government’s no deal planning which he described as “catastrophic” for rural communities.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr. Carmichael said:

Can I tell the Minister that I very much agree with him when he talks of Europe as a key export market for our Lamb producers and hill farmers. 160 of his colleagues last night voted for a no deal Brexit, including the Hon. Member who asked the question a no deal Brexit could expose lamb exports to a 12.8% plus €171.3/100kg tariff. Is that going to be good for our sheep farmers?

Responding on behalf of the Government, the Rt. Hon. Robert Goodwill, Minister of State for Fishing and Farming, said:

The best way to prevent a situation in which we have a no deal Brexit is to vote for the deal. Nothing yesterday was supported by the House. The deal is the best thing for agriculture, the best thing for future, and the best thing for a long-term relationship between ourselves and the European Union.

Speaking after the exchange, Mr. Carmichael added:

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31 December 2018 – 6 January 2019 – the week’s press releases

Right, the holiday season is over, and it’s back to something resembling normalcy tomorrow, what with Parliament resuming and all. So, here’s the press releases that you missed…

  • Govt must provide answers over forced marriage scandal
  • Javid comments on asylum seekers ‘completely unacceptable’
  • Corbyn cosies up to the Conservatives on Brexit
  • All Gove is offering farmers is uncertainty
  • Cable: PM’s publicity campaign is scaremongering
  • Cable: Govt must end brinkmanship over security in Northern Ireland
  • Lib Dems: Govt must follow airports and invest in drone protection

Govt must provide answers over forced marriage scandal

Liberal Democrats today condemned reports that the Government is charging victims of illegal forced marriages to …

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God Speed The Plough

One of the pleasures of being a PPC is the opportunity to visit many venues in the run up to Remembrance Day on Sunday.

Last week I had a look around the Flower Festival at St Sabinus’ Church, Woolacombe. Many of the exhibits struck a chord – I, after all, grew up on military bases and appreciate from the inside out the sacrifices women, men and children make in service to their country. The embroidered cards with faded handwritten messages, sent back and forth (yes, some French ones sent home to girlfriends from the front line) were especially poignant.

However, one flower display stood out, and that was the tribute to the Women’s Land Army. “God Speed the Plough” honoured the vital work of women undertaken whilst the nation was at war.

The Women’s Land Army was originally set up in 1917 but then dissolved after the First World War. It was reinstated in 1939 as a voluntary service, and then conscripted women from December 1941. “Land girls” did a variety of jobs on grain, stock and dairy farms, including deployment in an anti-vermin squad (‘rat-catchers’).

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31 October 2018 – today’s press releases

It’s Halloween, and the Press teams on either side of Offa’s Dyke are still working away…

Don’t Let Down Welsh Farmers – Welsh Lib Dems

Following the closure of the Welsh Government’s Brexit and Our Land consultation, the Welsh Liberal Democrats have urged the Welsh Government to carefully listen to the views of farmers and ensure farmers are not let down as they begin to consider their response.

The Welsh Government’s proposed model for supporting farmers and land managers after Brexit involves removing any aspect of direct support and instead focusing on promoting economic resilience and public goods.

The Welsh Liberal Democrat response to …

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18 October 2018 – today’s press releases

Extending transition period another embarrassing climbdown

Responding to the news that Theresa May is open to extending the transition period, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

Theresa May once argued that we didn’t need a transition period at all. Admitting that an extension is on the table, and the billions it would cost, is yet another in a long list of embarrassing climbdowns for this Tory Government.

The blame for this mess falls squarely at the Prime Minister’s feet. Over the last two years, her Government has failed to find solutions to

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The Agriculture Bill is Not Good Enough

At Autumn Conference I had the opportunity to speak with the National Farmers Union, receiving an in-depth briefing on farming issues in North Devon. I have been keenly following the passage of the Agriculture Bill through Parliament, knowing that this legislation will affect thousands of farmers up and down this country.

The Agriculture Bill seeks to provide for a range of enabling powers to ensure “stability” for farmers as the UK exits from the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy and compliance with the World Trade Organisation Agreement on Agriculture. It also introduces new measures

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North Devon Council passes motion calling for Brexit symposium

There is increasing worry about the impact of Brexit on our local economies and the recognition that it is important to make plans for all eventualities.

Last night, the Lib Dems in Opposition on North Devon (District) Council put forward a motion to examine exactly that:

The impact of Brexit (hard or soft) will affect all North Devon residents. This Council believes that with Brexit fast approaching, it is both sensible and realistic that the potential risks and impact of Brexit on North Devon – good and bad, short term and long term – are fully understood as far as is possible and aired in public together with detailed discussion on how these impacts can be mitigated. To achieve this, this Council undertakes to organize and co-ordinate a public conference/symposium before Christmas in which North Devon’s experts and leaders in business, farming, tourism, education, health and social services and other areas are invited to participate, together with elected representatives at all levels. This council is uniquely placed to lead this initiative by immediately setting up a Cross Party Working Group. The findings and conclusions of the symposium would be presented as a report to full Council and other authorities. Furthermore we request that consideration be given to how this Council can assist businesses etc. before and during the transition period.

I am pleased to say that the motion passed, with support from some Conservatives and Independents who recognised the need for such a symposium.

Cllr David Worden, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on North Devon Council, spoke passionately for the motion:

Whenever we turn on the news or read the newspapers it appears that the headlines are all about Brexit. I don’t want to go into the pros and cons of whether we should or should not leave the EU but I am extremely concerned about the impact of Brexit on the economy of North Devon. We live in one of the most deprived areas of the South West. There are hardly any services which have not been hit by austerity cuts. We simply cannot sit back and let the disastrous No Deal scenario, which seems ever likely, to be upon us, unprepared.

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Welsh Lib Dems plan £20 million boost for hill farmers

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have announced plans to help hill farmers, recognising the difficulties they face in farming challenging terrain.

They include £20 million package for hill farmers and plans to enable farmers to be able to improve their resilience and competitiveness.

They say they are passionate about protecting Wales’ proud farming tradition and that farmers in Wales produce some of the greatest produce in the world, but too often they are not getting the support they need from an out of touch Labour Government.

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Willie Rennie stands up for Scottish farmers let down by the SNP’s CAP payments failure

Ok, let’s get this out of the way first. We know that Willie has had his issues with farm animals recently.  I know it’s kind of hard to stop laughing, but try for a second, because this is important.

Before Willie had even set foot in that city farm yesterday, he’d been standing up for farmers across Scotland. As we told you earlier this week, the SNP has totally failed on delivering payments to farmers on time. This has caused our farmers tremendous difficulty. To add insult to injury, apparently whacking rates of interest will be charged on the emergency loans farmers were given by the Scottish Government. Tavish Scott highlighted this the other day. Willie made it clear in yesterday’s Press and Journal that the SNP Government should be compensating farmers for its failures:

Speaking on his visit to Fife, which came after the Press and Journal revealed farmers could be charged extortionate interest rates on state loans they have only received because of the CAP payment bungle, Mr Rennie said: “Farmers should not be footing the bill for SNP incompetence.

“Liberal Democrats will guarantee to increase the resources deployed in advance of the future rounds of CAP payments to ensure there is no repeat of the shambles we have seen this year.

“We will also establish an immediate restitution scheme to compensate farmers who incurred extra banking costs because of the delay in their CAP payment.

“That is the right, fair thing to do.”

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Michael Moore’s Westminster Notes

Every week Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore writes a column for newspapers in his Borders constituency. Here’s this week’s edition.

Farming

It has been a challenging few months for farmers here in the Borders with the extreme weather putting pressure on feed and bedding supplies and causing untold damage to crops and disruption to livestock. We have also heard the worrying news that processors are aggressively cutting the price they pay to our dairy farmers at the farm gate. These cuts are extremely disappointing because they appear to fly in the face of rising prices in global markets …

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Michael Moore MP’s Westminster Notes

Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore MP writes a weekly column for his local newspapers. Here is this week’s edition.

Independence Referendum

As discussions continue surrounding the process and timing of the Scottish Government’s independence referendum, the UK Government published the results of their consultation on the referendum last week. With nearly 3000 responses, the results demonstrated strong support from all quarters in Scotland for a referendum which is legal, fair and decisive.

Since our consultation was launched in January we have already made a good deal of progress with the Scottish Government – both agreeing that a Section …

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Norman Lamb MP writes… Fairness: from the farm to the shopping trolley

The Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill was announced in the Queen’s Speech on Wednesday. This is an issue which the Liberal Democrats in general, and Andrew George in particular, have campaigned on for many years. I can remember meeting with farmers shortly after I was first elected back in 2001, and hearing from them the difficulties they faced as suppliers for the biggest supermarkets. A commitment to introduce “a powerful independent regulator of Britain’s food market” featured in our last manifesto (in fact, …

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Simon Wright MP’s maiden speech

Back when Cix was the main way of talking to other Lib Dems online, a tradition emerged of posting Lib Dem MPs’ maiden speeches so that people could read them and respond – a tradition LDV would like to continue. Scheduled this weekend are Simon Wright, below, Duncan Hames and David Ward.

Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, for giving me this opportunity to make my maiden speech. I am pleased to follow the maiden speeches of the hon. Members for Walsall South (Valerie Vaz) and for Stroud (Neil Carmichael) and of many other Members who have spoken today with great pride …

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Opinion: The Rubber Chicken Circuit and Lib Dem policy on factory farming

The ubiquity of overcooked, tasteless chicken served at political fundraising events is such that it has warranted the invention of a phrase that must surely strike fear into the hearts of even our most sociable Elected Members: The Rubber Chicken Circuit.

It was probably inevitable that chicken would become the meat of choice to serve at such events because of its almost universal popularity and the fact that it is now one of the cheapest meats available. But I always wonder how this has become the case at Liberal Democrat events, given that we are the only party to …

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