Covid-19 impacts on farming industry discussed in telephone meeting

The impacts of the coronavirus crisis on the British farming industry were discussed during a telephone meeting involving the NFU and MPs.

North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson was one of more than 30 MPs to take part in the meeting
North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson was one of more than 30 MPs to take part in the meeting

More than 30 MPs, including North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson, took part in the meeting with NFU president Minette Batters.

The Covid-19 outbreak has seen the almost complete loss of the food service and hospitality markets, as well as increasing price volatility in global markets, which has left farm businesses and processors under increased pressure. This has led to some dairy farmers with no other option but to dispose of milk on farm.

The farming industry also faces a huge shortfall of workers to harvest fruit and vegetables even though many thousands of people have expressed an interest in joining a new “land army”.

The campaign to recruit as many as 90,000 is being backed by environment secretary George Eustice.

Mr Paterson said: "We had a pretty good chat about the whole farming industry, including the beef industry and local labour for vegetable and fruit picking.

"One of the biggest issues is with dairy farmers who sell into the catering industry and the amount of excess milk that is being thrown away. We talked about schemes to reduce production."

Jonathan Evans, NFU Shropshire county advisor, said: “This was a private meeting but we would echo our president’s comments that it is vital that we are updating MPs on the latest impacts of coronavirus on our industry.

“We’re currently engaging with all Shropshire MPs on behalf of our farmer and grower members on a vast array of pressing subjects, from labour to supply chain issues.

“Shropshire farmers are busy getting on with their job of producing high quality, traceable food for our tables and that is something the industry can be rightly proud of.

“The NFU is busy helping to give bespoke advice and ensuring our crucial supply chain role is represented in government planning and response."

Mrs Batters added: “This was a really useful meeting with more than 30 MPs on Covid-19 impacts on British farming and I am enormously grateful for their time and passion for our industry."

For further information about the NFU’s lobbying work or to join the union, farmers and growers can contact their local group secretary or the regional office on 01952 400500.

The NFU's website – nfuonline.com – also has a dedicated updates and advice page on Covid-19.

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