By Abi Kay
Shadow Defra Secretary Rachael Maskell promised a future Labour government would ‘grow production while protecting our natural world’ and ‘reconnect urban to rural Britain’.
Shadow Defra Secretary Rachael Maskell promised a future Labour government would ’grow production while protecting our natural world’ and ‘reconnect urban to rural Britain’.
In her keynote speech to the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool on Sunday, she pledged her party’s support to developing a sound agricultural policy post-Brexit which delivered for both the sector and the environment.
"While the Government may not understand strategic business planning, the agricultural and food sectors do. Crucially, how we trade will determine if rural Britain thrives or survives," she said.
"Labour will work with the food and agricultural sector to underpin trade with the right financial drivers to grow production, while protecting our natural world.
"Labour will back British Farming – plough to plate."
She told delegates that people no longer understood where their food came from or how much it really cost to produce and said Labour would improve the public’s relationship with food using ’education and labelling, better health interventions and a new food framework’.
The Grocery Code Adjudicator would also be given extended powers to ensure farmers did not bear all the risk in the food production chain.
On labour issues, Ms Maskell pledged a future Labour government would allow farmers and food manufacturers to keep EU workers they had already recruited and said an Agricultural Sector Council would be created to deal with all employment standards, including wages.
Other policies which were outlined included rolling out broadband and mobile coverage to all, giving the Fire and Rescue Service a statutory duty to deal with flooding and using the environment to help improve people’s health through increased physical activity, also known as social prescribing.
Labour’s opposition to the badger cull was reiterated again, with Ms Maskell claiming a Government which ’turns its frustration on a badger is giving false hope’.
She also criticised the UK Government’s handling of the EU referendum, saying ministers had ’no understanding of the capacity needed to re-negotiate hundreds of regulations protecting our food safety and wider environment’, and ’no plan for the future’ of the agricultural sector.