Labour has suggested it could take the lead on agricultural matters after announcing it was ‘on a mission’ to champion food and farming within the party.
Delegates at the SERA Sunday Lunch Conversation (September 24), ‘What should Labour fight for in food and farming?’ heard how it could be the ‘party of farmers’ with its pledge to focus on Brexit and the opportunities it offered to farming and the environment.
A particular hot topic saw the discussion of small family farms and a call to reverse the trend of a decline in UK farmers.
Ms Hayman said: “We have to make smaller farms more innovative, profitable and diversified to make them attractive to the young.”
She prompted the need for larger agri-businesses to pay for the damage they created to boost sustainability of small farms and reduce the number of hoops ‘farmers have to jump through’.
Christopher Price, director of policy at the CLA, said he was pleased Ms Hayman acknowledged the extent to which the planning system frustrated necessary rural development, but warned she offered a ‘misguided fixation on scale’.
“Sue Hayman and the other panelists clearly recognise the threat to animal welfare and environmental standards from a bad trade deal,” Mr Price added.
“But the event had an unnecessary focus on farm size.
“All the evidence shows that the size of the farm is pretty much irrelevant to profitability or maintaining high environmental standards.
“What matters is the ability and enthusiasm of the individual farmer.”