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Torridge and West Devon Liberal Democrats

Back British Farming, say North Devon farmers

September 11, 2020 5:20 PM

Leading Lib Dem farmers have joined the NFU's call for MPs of all parties to sign a pledge to protect British agriculture.

Speaking on the NFU's Back British Farming day (9 September), Stephen Middleton, Chair of Torridge and West Devon Liberal Democrats, who farms near Winkleigh, said:

'This has been a terrible year for farmers with floods, Coronavirus, and then drought. Now the Government threatens to undercut food producers by allowing in cheap, sub-standard imports and throwing away our tariff-free access to European markets. It all adds up to a disaster for British food and farming.'

According to a survey by YouGov, 80% of the British public say they would not accept chlorinated chicken or hormone-treated beef as the price of a trade deal with the US.

Responding to a top economist's report that one in three farms could be driven out of business by a No Deal Brexit, Ray Auvray, who farms near Bideford, said:

'This Tory Government seems prepared to tear up environmental standards and sacrifice family farms in counties like Devon with a no-deal Brexit and their desperation to get a trade deal with the United States. Instead of working towards self-sufficiency and environmentally friendly, high quality, locally produced food, their policies will destroy our rural communities.'

David Chalmers, Mayor of Northam and Lib Dem Parliamentary spokesperson for Torridge and West Devon, said:

'The Government has an opportunity now to prove just how much it cares about farmers in Devon and across the country. Will they press ahead with a reckless no-deal Brexit, or will they conclude the trade agreement they told us was "oven ready"? Will they maintain the ban on the use of chemicals and hormones which disguise unsavoury practices in food production, or will they surrender to Donald Trump? Our MPs need to make their position very clear.'

He added that:

'Locally sourced food is vital, not just because it's better for you and saves food miles. It is part of our heritage and it's what draws visitors here. Tourists want to eat our superb Devon produce and to see sheep and cattle in our fields. Traditional farming protects our environment as well as supplying us with delicious food.'

1. Thousands of politicians, celebrities, chefs, farmers and members of the public joined the National Farmers Union's (NFU) Back British Farming Day on 9 September, now in its fifth year: https://www.nfuonline.com/news/latest-news/nfu-media-coverage-backbritishfarming-day-2020/

2. 'One in three farms could fold in no deal, warns top economist', Farmers Weekly, 4 September 2020. Séan Rickard, formerly chief economist for the NFU, said that half of all farms were already unprofitable and would be even less so after the government phased out direct payments to growers and livestock producers. He said that farms most at risk were smaller, full-time producers unlikely to be able to benefit from the new Environmental Land Management scheme.

3. In a YouGov survey carried out in June this year, only 8% of respondents said that chlorine washed chicken or hormone treated beef would be acceptable as part of a US trade deal while, in each case, 80% said that this would be unacceptable: https://yougov.co.uk/topics/food/articles-reports/2020/06/16/britain-chlorinated-chicken-US-trade-deal