Newmarket: Would-be MEPs come under the spotlight at rural hustings

More than 60 farmers attended a hustings event with MEP candidates at the NFU headquarters in Newmar

More than 60 farmers attended a hustings event with MEP candidates at the NFU headquarters in Newmarket - Credit: Archant

More than 60 farmers packed into the NFU’s regional office in Newmarket to quiz European election candidates on food and farming issues.

With agriculture at the heart of policy coming out of Brussels, representatives from the five main parties set out their rural policies for the next European Parliament and debated the challenges facing British agriculture.

The panel comprised Vicky Ford (Conservative), Andrew Duff (Liberal Democrat), Sandy Martin (Labour), Stuart Agnew (UKIP) and Andrew Stringer (Green Party).

During a lively two hour debate they took questions on topics ranging from MEPs’ remuneration to controls on firearms, GM crops and whether Britain would be better off inside or outside the European Union.

One of the biggest concerns among the audience was the potential for additional controls on crop protection products.

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Cambridgeshire NFU council delegate Michael Sly warned the panel that “we are sleep walking towards a food crisis”.

He urged MEPs to ensure that Europe took a risk-based approach, based on sound science, when taking decisions on crop protection.

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NFU regional board chairman Will Dickinson chaired the meeting. He said he hoped the hustings helped farmers and growers make up their minds on who should represent them and he urged farmers to use their vote on Thursday May 22.

“MEPs have a vital role to play within Europe and hold significant power and influence on the decisions that directly affect our working lives,” he said.

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