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MPs encouraged to Back British Farmers

14th Sep 2016 / By Alistair Driver

MPs will be encouraged to Back British Farming today as the NFU takes its campaign to the heart of the political establishment.

Wheat badgeFarmers and NFU staff will take three Massey Ferguson tractors and a range of British produce to London today to showcase British food and seek the support of MPs as Brexit negotiations continue.

MPs will wear their specially designed British wheat lapel badges to Prime Minister’s Questions and sign the NFU’s post-Brexit pledge.

Defra Secretary Andrea Leadsom and Farming Minister George Eustice have already confirmed their support.

The event is timed to coincide with the end of the NFU Brexit member consultation, which has sought views what a future domestic farming policy should look like.

NFU Deputy President Minette Batters said: “It is essential that post-Brexit, agriculture is seen as strategically and politically important in all future trade negotiations.”

Mrs Leadsom said: “I want to see this vital industry go from strength to strength and supporting our farmers will form an important part of our exit from the EU.”

NPA chief executive Zoe Davies said: "We support this initiative. As far as the pig industry is concerned this is a really important time to ensure we have the backing of our politicians. It is essential our needs are fully considered as the Brexit negotiations take shape."

Farming blamed

The timing of the event is also notable as it comes the day a major report has highlighted the intensification of agriculture as the major driver for the loss of biodiversity in Britain.

The State of Nature report assessed 8,000 UK species and found one in 10 were threatened with extinction, including more than half of farmland birds (56 per cent) including the turtle dove and corn bunting.

Lead author of the paper Mark Eaton said: "We now know that farming practices over recent decades have had the single largest impact on the UK's wildlife. This isn't deliberate, it is a by-product of changes in farming to make it more efficient."

NFU president Guy Smith said it makes little sense to attribute cause and effect to 'the intensification of agriculture' in the UK in the last quarter of a century when there hasn't been any. 

Since the early 1990s, in terms of inputs and in terms of numbers of livestock and area of crops grown British agriculture has not intensified in fact it's the reverse, he said.

“Other causes acknowledged in the report, such as urbanisation, climate change or increasing predator pressure need greater attention,” he said.

To mark Back British Farming day, the NFU is:

  • Encouraging people to contact their local MPs on Twitter to see if they will #BackBritishFarming
  • Encouraging MPs to show their support on Twitter using #BackBritishFarming; and to wear their British-made pin badges in Parliament