Farmers' leader in wake up call

Farmers' leader Peter Kendall has challenged government and retailers to back the industry to produce quality home-grown food.In a rousing speech to members at the National Farmers' Union's regional conference at Chilford Hall, Cambridge, Mr Kendall said: "We need a commitment from government to productive agriculture.

Farmers' leader Peter Kendall has challenged government and retailers to back the industry to produce quality home-grown food.

In a rousing speech to members at the National Farmers' Union's regional conference at Chilford Hall, Cambridge, Mr Kendall said: "We need a commitment from government to productive agriculture."

"The fact that No 10 has now got the Cabinet Office to look food security tells me that some of these events of the summer have woken them up," said Mr Kendall.

He told the 260 members that this summer has been a wake-up call, especially to


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the livestock industry following the leak

of foot-and-mouth disease from the government's laboratories at the Institute of Animal Health at Pirbright in August.

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Mr Kendall said: "We need people, and especially retailers, to wake up and realise that you don't take food production for granted. I hope that will strike a chord with government on things like regulation."

Mr Kendall said that Whitehall policies on issues, including the Saws (Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme) were "madness." He was also highly critical of the harsh impact of changes on the taxation treatment of agricultural buildings allowances and on plans for the water framework directive, NVZs, pesticides directives and so on.

At a time when the industry has to move from battery cages to free range egg production, scrapping of tax allowances would penalise the very industry trying to adapt and change, said Mr Kendall.

The result would simply move the egg industry abroad, as has happened to the pig sector, which has lost 70pc of production since a ban on sow stalls and tethers was introduced in 1996.

He urged retailers retailers to invest in long-term supply chains and plan for a productive future and set up long-term relationships rather than continuing to source cheap product.

Farmers should also join the NFU and "not just carp from the outside," he added.

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