CLA president Tim Breitmeyer has vowed to continue his ‘crusade’ to convince the Government to invest in outdated farm infrastructure.
Speaking at an event hosted by the CLA at Conservative Party Conference in Manchester this week, Mr Breitmeyer said he had worked ‘tirelessly’ to get Ministers and officials to understand the need for spending to improve infrastructure which is in a ‘pitiful state’, but conceded up to now, he had failed.
His comments were made in response to a question from Uttoxeter councillor David Brookes, who pointed out 70 per cent of dairy farmers in the UK are in special measures with their banks and unable to invest in the new infrastructure needed to improve welfare outcomes and productivity.
Chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Efra) Select Committee Neil Parish, who was also on the panel, suggested leaving the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) would make it easier for the UK Government to act in this area.
“We could look at ways where we genuinely link cubicle housing to the welfare of a cow, or [improvements in] slurry stores to the environment being looked after,” he said.
“We can, if we choose to as a Government, move much quicker, it is whether we will. But we want to make sure it is about making farms more productive, not just some form of subsidy, and that is the challenge.”
Another panellist at the event, MP and Efra committee member Julian Sturdy, pointed out the innovation fund in the Agriculture Bill would help farmers to invest in infrastructure.
He said: “Dairy farming has been through a pretty traumatic period over the past decade and that has led to quite a lot of underinvestment, but there is now hopefully the opportunity as we come out of the CAP to innovate and invest, whether that is in robotic milking parlours or different things which might take the industry forward.”