Shadow Defra Secretary of State, Luke Pollard, meets NFU members on a Cambridgeshire farm as Labour launches a major new review of its rural policies.
Mr Pollard and Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner spent more than two hours on Peter Hatley’s farm at Landbeach yesterday (Wednesday 21 April), outlining the principles behind the rural review and discussing key farming issues.
NFU County Adviser Hannah Padfield said: “We were pleased to welcome Mr Pollard to Cambridgeshire, a hugely important county for agriculture, at the start of this year-long policy review.
“This is a rural policy review, covering more than pure agricultural issues, so it will also look at areas such as transport, housing provision and employment opportunities.
“He stressed that he is keen to hear from as many NFU members as possible as part of the review process so there is a real opportunity to get our views across in the next few months.”
During wide-ranging discussions, the NFU described the impact of rural crime, including hare coursing and fly-tipping. Members stressed their frustration at having to pay to remove fly-tipped waste from their land, an example of the victim paying the cost of the crime.
Connectivity holds back progress
They also highlighted the importance of flood protection measures and drainage in areas such as the Fens and how insufficient rural broadband is holding back productivity for many farm businesses. Both MPs were given a copy of the NFU's Delivering for Britain report as well, which looks at the pivotal role that food and farming fulfils in the Fens.
Mr Pollard said: “No party can claim to represent the country if it doesn’t represent the countryside.
“Labour's Rural England Policy Review will ensure that our next manifesto provides as much hope and opportunity to rural communities as it does to those living in towns and cities.”
The NFU representatives also included County Chair Mat Smith, March & Chatteris Chair Alison Langley, and Ramsey & Whittlesey Chair, Luke Abblitt.