Choosing British food will boost the economy
EARLIER this month, I met farmers who are members of the National Farmers’ Union in Buckinghamshire. Agriculture is part of a global business these days.
Commodities like wheat are traded internationally and thus a drought in Australia or a bumper harvest in Canada will affect the prices paid for cereal crops grown in the Chilterns.
Agriculture is also a very highly regulated industry.
I know that many of my constituents want to see a high-welfare regime in place so that animals are cared for properly at all stages of their lives.
There have to be strict rules about hygiene to reduce the risk of disease. Only a few weeks ago, an outbreak of bird ‘flu at a duck farm triggered disease controls.
There are constant checks to ensure the food we eat is safe and healthy for us.
It was inevitable that one of the items on the agenda which I discussed with local farmers would be reform of the Common Agricultural Policy.
The CAP is the EU-wide system of agricultural subsidies and programmes.
This covers farming, environmental measures and rural development, as well as controlling EU agricultural markets.
There has been extensive consultation with farmers and environmental groups, as changes come in, but of course in Parliament we will be keeping a close eye on what effect these changes have.
Over the centuries, farming has made our countryside what it is today.
We can sometimes forget that those green fields are managed, often creating the way the landscape looks.
Farmers have always been stewards of the landscape, aware that they are responsible for handing it on to future generations.
With the changing emphasis on looking after the natural environment, farmers are still playing their part.
When we go to the shops or markets and buy British produce, we are helping to sustain the rural economy which is part of the whole UK economy.
By choosing British food, we can support high standards for animal welfare and plant health, important to a large number of consumers.
Most of all, when we choose local produce, it will be fresh and tasty, the ingredients for many a festive feast this month.