A well-attended meeting of Cheshire farmers were joined by the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and Macclesfield's MP, David Rutley, to discuss important issues affecting the farming community in North East Cheshire.
The Secretary of State, who attended at David’s invitation, answered questions about the future of farming, the Government's Clean Air Strategy, Environment Management, and issues relating to the UK's withdrawal from the EU. Mr Gove addressed the meeting and spoke about the Government's continued support for the agricultural sector, and the vital role that farmers play in providing food, promoting high standards of food and animal welfare, and acting as stewards for our much-valued countryside.
Over twenty farmers were present at the meeting, which was organised by the Macclesfield branch of the National Farmers Union, from across local agricultural sectors meaning that a wide range of important topics could be covered. In addition, several younger farmers also attended, helping to give a fresh perspective on these important issues.
Present at the meeting was Cheshire egg producer Dr Steven Pace who farms with his family at Medhurst Green Farm Congleton and is a past NFU PIP participant. Steven put questions to the minister regarding the poultry sectors concerns on having the ability to access grants to enable the sector to play its part in delivering Defra’s clean air strategy and improved health and welfare standards. Previously the poultry sector has not been eligible for such funding streams. Steven also put to the minister that other avenues should be explored which could be more environmentally sustainable with regards to the clean air strategy, for example planting trees near to poultry sheds and the benefit these could provide to the air quality. Mr Gove was very receptive to this idea and requested that members of his team visit Steven farm then they could see first-hand the concerns the Pace family have but also explore other available options in more depth. David Rutley said he would like to attend when the DEFRA team visit.
Speaking after the meeting, David, who is also a Minister at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said, "I am pleased that the Secretary of State was able to join this meeting, to hear the views of local farmers on issues of importance to their sectors. It was great to see such a broad cross-section of the farming community around Macclesfield present, helping to make this a productive and constructive discussion. I am grateful to the National Farmers Union for their support in facilitating the meeting, and look forward to continuing to work with local farmers in the months ahead."
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