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Greens call for “level playing field” for British farmers

catherine rowett - compassion in world farming event

Newly elected MEP for the Eastern region, Dr Catherine Rowett, will tomorrow (Saturday 15th June 2019) be meeting members of the Compassion in World Farming organisation who are hosting an event at the Forum in Norwich as part of her efforts to highlight how the EU can ensure better treatment of animals. Compassion in World Farming is a group which among other things campaigns against the live export of animals, certain methods of livestock slaughter, and all forms of factory farming.

Dr Rowett said that updating and improving the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy would be one of her key priorities:

“However long Britain remains in the EU, whether that is 5 months, 5years, or longer, I will do what I can to ensure that smaller British farmers, who grow food sustainably, ethically and as responsibly as possible, will be getting as good a deal as possible from Europe.

“But to do this we need to create a level playing field between our farmers and those of other nations, so that ours are not put out of business in competition with others. We want to maintain and indeed improve animal welfare standards; we need decent wages and working conditions for agricultural workers; we need environmental protection to support our region’s biodiversity and ensure the survival of bees and wild creatures. This will not be possible if our farmers are being undercut by weaker regulations and standards elsewhere in the EU, or, indeed, from outside the EU.

“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the so-called “IPCC report”) has told us we have less than 4000 days to take drastic action to protect this planet and slash our carbon emissions. Furthermore, insect studies are demonstrating that our ecosystems seem to be teetering on the brink of disaster, while the state of our soils is another enormous threat to future food security and climate chaos.

“Cross border work and improvements to our agricultural policies are urgently needed to tackle these issues, but they don’t have to mean damage to prospects for British farmers. On the contrary, good farming should be rewarded and celebrated, and there need to be appropriate moves towards making more sustainable methods profitable and safe for humans and animals alike.”

Agriculture continues to be a major industry in East Anglia. The NFU states that sales of output from farms total almost £3 billion, while more than 39,000 people directly work in the farming sector across the region.

One of the speakers at the Compassion in World Farming event is former Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett, who explained:

“People want to feed themselves and their children well, but letting the decisions about our food system be made by a handful of companies – supermarkets and manufacturers – is not allowing them that outcome.”

Animal welfare and improving farming practices across the EU was one of the Green Party’s key policy pledges in their manifesto for last month’s elections, with the party stating that:“How much farmers benefit from Europe’s agricultural policies should depend on how much they protect the climate, safeguard water, invest in animal welfare, protect biodiversity and refrain from using GMOs.”