Monday, 31 March 2008

Considering Agriculture

Continuing the Shadow Ministerial visits to Rugby, Peter Ainsworth whose brief is Food and the Environment and I visited local famer Cecil Thomas. Cecil runs a mixed farm with a dairy herd, pedigree sheep and arable, and he is a former Chair of Warwickshire NFU. He is a very strong advocate of his industry and was forthright in his views concerning the difficulties facing farming. Having been shown around the farm we discussed the strategies to dealing with the TB problem and blue tongue; the continuing problems with single farm payments; the power of the supermarkets and the lack of understanding of many people, & in particluar the young, of how food gets to the table. I learnt that school vists used to take place to farms in the past but this is no longer possible because of health & safety and the need for risk assesments. We considered the work being done by people like Jamie Oliver and it is a shame that more is not being done to enable a greater appreciation of the contribution of our farmers.