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UK farming unions set to lobby ministers in Brussels

PUBLISHED: 06:00 12 March 2016

Meurig Raymond.

Meurig Raymond.

Presidents of the UK farming unions will meet UK ministers in Brussels to discuss ways to respond to the deepening European agricultural crisis ahead of a high-profile meeting of Europe’s Agriculture ministers on Monday.

Environment Secretary Liz Truss. Environment Secretary Liz Truss.

The UK farming unions believe that urgent action is required at a European Union and UK level. New ways to boost trade and improve the market, access to finance and fairness in supply chains need to be found to reduce the pressure on struggling farmers, they argue.

Environment Secretary Liz Truss, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and Environment in Scotland Richard Lochhead, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development for the Northern Ireland Executive Michelle O’Neill and Deputy Minister for Farming and Food in the Welsh Government Rebecca Evans will meet with the four presidents of the farming unions at the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) offices in Brussels.

Following the meeting, ministers will meet their European counterparts, as well as Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan, to discuss a range of measures proposed to help the industry.

NFU (England and Wales) president Meurig Raymond said: “The UK food and farming sector is worth £103billion and employs 3.8million people – 13.4% of the UK workforce. Our industry is currently experiencing major difficulties which need addressing urgently.

“We are calling on the Secretary of State to voice support for swift measures which could provide the urgent relief we need – such as the lifting of tariffs on fertiliser imports, establishing new financial instruments with the European Investment Bank and working to improve the dysfunctional European supply chain. As representatives of 70,000 farmers, we are committed to putting this across to the ministers on Monday.

“We are working at every level – local, national and European – to find new ways to take the burden off our struggling farmers. The cumulative effect of the Russian trade ban, supply and demand imbalances in the market and problems with the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payments delivery means that UK farmers are facing significant cash flow difficulties. We will suggest deliverable actions for the European Commission to tackle this undeniable farming crisis.”

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