Brexit and future of the uplands on agenda during farm minister's visit
THE agriculture minister has met dale farmers to discuss issues and challenges facing the sector.
MP Victoria Prentis went to West Farm, in Staindrop, alongside MP Dehenna Davison and members of Utass (Upper Teesdale Agriculture Support Services).
Details of the discussion have not been made available but they centred around issues with the uplands, tenant farming and Brexit.
Utass representative Bob Danby said it was a positive meeting.
He said: “Dehenna has always shown a keen interest in the problems facing dales farmers.
“Our first meeting was in the run up to her election and since then we have had regular meetings to discuss current problems and concerns.
“I must thank her for arranging a meeting with Victoria. It was very encouraging to find Victoria has a firm grasp on the issues around the changes in agricultural policies and was very much in empathy with the concerns of our farmers.
“We had a very productive discussion around the upcoming changes and their effects, and we were able to highlight some issues relevant to upland and tenanted farms which Victoria is going to take back to Defra.”
The visit also featured a tour of the farm, where the two MPs saw some newly born lambs.
Ms Davison said: “It was great to welcome the farming minister, Victoria Prentis, to West Farm in Staindrop. The last year has been particularly tough, especially for those in the agriculture sector.
“The immediate closure of restaurants and other food facilities meant that many farmers lost a huge part of their sales.
“I am grateful to the minister for taking the time to come up and visit as well as speak to some of our local farmers.
“I know that everyone found the visit very useful and we are looking forward to
welcoming her back again soon.”
Ms Davison said that since Brexit, the Government has been “very clear on its commitment that any future trade agreements must uphold the UK’s high levels of food safety, animal welfare standards, and environmental protection”.
She added: “The EU Withdrawal Act transferred all existing EU food safety provisions onto the UK statute book, and Ministers have made clear these standards will not be watered down in pursuit of any trade deal now that the UK has left the EU.”