Today’s offering from Farmers Weekly reports Deputy President Minette Batters argue that boosting food production is the key to a thriving rural economy. Same old NFU there.
But with 2.1 billion overweight or obese in the world, and the UK 3rd the most overweight country in Europe, should we really be boosting food production? What about all the other vital goods the land provides, clean water, carbon storage, flood alleviation, joy, inspiration and peace? Do they not count?
It also reports her comments on “single issue pressure groups”. Farmers Weekly did not mention the other claim made at the same event, that a badger had been vaccinated against bovine TB 22 times.
Batters didn’t dismiss the claim but rather, remarked: ” it must have had a real taste for peanuts”.
I expect even the Farmers Weekly realised it was nonsense that a badger would have been vaccinated that many times. Badger vaccinators are trained and mark each animal they vaccinate every year. As a badger only lives 4 years on average it would 0nly have been vaccinated a maximum of 4 times in its lifetime. The vaccination leaves no mark, so how would anyone have seen the evidence of 22 vaccinations?
If environmental and animal welfare groups are single issue pressure groups, what does that make the NFU? They only speak for a fraction of their own 50,000 members, who in themselves only make up a third of the farmers of England. They don’t really represent anyone apart from a small clique of wealthy landowners milking society for £3bn of handouts every year.
Ms Batters has clearly taken on the “bash the green lobby” role from former President Peter Kendall. It doesn’t look like she’s up to his standard of polemic yet, but I have high hopes for her.
The government must pay greater attention to boosting food production, as it is the linchpin of a thriving rural sector, according to NFU deputy president Minette Batters.
Speaking at the Devon County Show last week, Ms Batters said that successive governments had paid lip service to farmers, but had failed to fulfil their promises. “Food production is not a priority for this government – the language has changed since Margaret Beckett, but the actions haven’t.”
Prioritising food production would affect every part of the rural economy, as politicians would have to tackle TB, support land-based education, reduce red tape, and curb the power of single-issue pressure groups, said Ms Batters. “Eradicating TB is part of food production – we have a strategy in place, and if we don’t do it now, it will never happen.”
The rise in influence of non-governmental organisations, which politicians mistakenly called “society”, posed a considerable threat to food production, she added. “These are not ‘society’ – they are pressure groups, some of which don’t want to see farming at all.”
Ms Batters was also very worried about retailers’ failure to wholly back British produce, just one year on from the Horsegate scandal. “We need to look after our own supply chains – and, personally, I would like to know what happened to those prosecutions,” she said.
Mirroring farmers’ concerns about depressed beef prices, MP Neil Parish said he had already contacted the Groceries Adjudicator. “It looks like there’s a monopoly of ownership by Irish beef companies and I’ve asked the adjudicator to look into that.”