North Devon MP, Selaine Saxby, has been working hard for our farmers this last week hosting a virtual Q&A with Environment Secretary, George Eustice, and 70 NFU members. Ms. Saxby also secured and led a successful Westminster Hall Debate on British Meat and Dairy Products.
On Friday 23rd April, Ms. Saxby arranged a virtual meeting for NFU members from across Devon, representing a wide range of farming businesses, to meet with the Rt Hon George Eustice MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs, and with Victoria Prentis MP, Minister for Farming, Fisheries and Food. With over 70 people on the call, great effort was taken to make sure that all viewpoints were represented.
The participants were invited to submit questions beforehand, with Ms. Saxby collating similar questions and presenting them to the Ministers in turn to answer before those who had asked them. In addition, participants contributed questions throughout the call, with both Ministers offering ample time for the majority of the questions to be answered. The Secretary of State’s office was kind enough to allow further questions to be submitted after the call that the Secretary of State and the Minister had not had time to answer.
Questions and conversation ranged from Bovine TB to the Agricultural Transition Programme, with animal transport, the environmental impact of farming, and the rollout of broadband also being discussed. The Ministers were able to explain the Government thinking around several new and proposed policies, while listening to local, on-the-ground feedback about how these policies were perceived and how they impacted local business.
On Wednesday 28th April, Ms. Saxby built on this discussion when she secured and opened a debate on “British Meat and Dairy Products”, and spoke on the environmental benefits of the industry and of buying British.
Selaine Saxby, MP for North Devon, said:
“I am most grateful to the Ministers for taking the time to speak with my constituents and answer their questions. I felt they really listened to what my constituents had to say, and their answers were enormously helpful to so many local farming businesses across North Devon.
“Our exit from the European Union last year has presented great opportunities for reviewing policies in the farming sector, and in this significant conversation between DEFRA officials and my constituents, I am most pleased to see how positive it has been.
“I would also like to give my thanks to the NFU for all the help they gave in setting up the meeting, and for continuing to be a great ally to farmers across North Devon, and indeed the country. We are better when we work together, and it is a privilege to represent so many of our wonderful farmers in Parliament.”
Andrew Butler, Devon County Advisor from the NFU, said:
“In recent times we have seen a steady stream of articles in the media unfairly maligning the beef and dairy sectors, so Ms. Saxby’s debate was an excellent opportunity to put over some of the facts and put on record all the great reasons to consume beef and dairy, as well as the excellent work the farmers do to put these products on consumers plates . It was great to hear the benefits of meat and dairy put across so cogently, and equally great to see a range of MPs from the South West all speaking as one in support of the industry.
I am also grateful to Ms. Saxby for arranging a call with many of our members across Devon last week. It was a great opportunity to discuss first-hand with Ministers how we proactively address the challenges and what Government need to do to support the sector to enable it to thrive in the future. We look forward to further discussions with Ms. Saxby and Ministers in the future.”