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MP fears devolution will hit farmers

By Mark Andrews | North Shropshire | Farming | Published:

Devolving more power to the Welsh Parliament would hit farmers whose land straddle the English border, a Shropshire MP has warned.

Daniel Kawczynski was speaking during a debate on the Agriculture Bill, which passed its third reading in the House of Commons this week.

The Bill, which will set out the UK's post-Brexit policy on agriculture will now go the House of Lords for approval.

Mr Kawczynski, MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham, spoke out after environment minister Victoria Prentis said the Bill would devolve more power and responsibility to the Welsh administration.

Mr Kawczynski said moves to give Wales greater autonomy were causing difficulties for farmers in border areas.

He called for the Government to set up a task force to investigate how to create a 'level playing field' for farmers in border communities.

"As Cardiff and London move further and further apart, we have already seen huge additional complications and problems for our farmers on the border in dealing with sometimes highly different and contradictory legislation emanating from both Parliaments," he said.

He said the growing problem of bovine tuberculosis, which saw 2,000 cattle slaughtered in the county last year, was one area where differing regulations were causing problems.

"My farmers are going through a crisis of untold proportions," he told the Commons.

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"Some of my farmers have land on both sides of the border, and bovine tuberculosis unfortunately does not respect national frontiers, so the devolution process is very difficult for my farmers."

Mr Kawczynski said he was also concerned that the different rules would put English farmers at a disadvantage when their subsidies end in seven years' time, but Welsh farmers will continue to receive theirs.

Mr Kawczynski said his association chairman Councillor Dan Morris, a cattle farmer, and Robert Newbery, West Midland regional director of the National Farmers Union, had asked for guarantees in law ensuring a level playing field when it came to food standards.

"They rightly feel that we have some of the best standards not just in Europe but across the whole globe," he said.

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Mr Kawczynski said he had spoken to Guy Davies, a farmer in Little Ness, who produced five million chickens a year.

"In addition, he uses the chicken manure to generate over 9 million kW of electricity, which can power up to 2,000 homes," he said.

Owen Paterson, MP for North Shropshire, said he welcomed the Bill which would free Shropshire from the constraints of the EU Common Agricultural Policy.

The former environment secretary said during his time in cabinet farmers would constantly ask for more freedom from regulation.

"When I was Secretary of State, time and again farmers said, 'Get out of our hair!' The Bill will allow farmers to concentrate on what they are good at, which is producing food."

Mr Paterson spoke out against an amendment which would have prohibited the UK from striking trade deals with other countries that did not meet existing UK food standards. The amendment defeated by 328 votes to 277.

He warned that if the amendment was passed, it would rule out the possibility of a lucrative trade deal with the US.

Mr Paterson said if the UK was able to export beef to the US, that would bring in at least £60 billion over three years.

"In the lamb industry, China and America are neck and neck as the world leaders in lamb consumption," he said.

"They each consume twice as much as France or Germany, so there are great opportunities for our exporters."

Mark Andrews

By Mark Andrews
@MAndrews_Star

Senior news writer for the Shropshire Star specialising in in-depth features and commentary, investigative reporting and political matters.

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