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NFU CONFERENCE - Fighting the British Corner in Europe

24 February 2010

UK - The voice of British farmers has to be heard in the forthcoming negotiations over the Common Agricultural Policy in Europe, writes TheCattleSite senior editor, Chris Harris.

This was one of the messages from the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs secretary Hilary Benn to the National Union of Framers conference in Birmingham.

"Make no mistake about it - the CAP will not remain unchanged," he said.

"The state of public finances right across Europe and the need to get the world trading its way out of recession are going to have a huge impact."

Mr Benn added: We must ensure that the voice of British farmers continues to be heard. We have got good ideas and we have got influence."

Mr Benn added that the government has been working with the industry to help the British pig sector out of its present crisis.

"You told me that if something wasn't done - and fast - then pretty soon England might not have a pig producing industry left," he said.

During the conference the Pig Meat Supply Chain task force published a code of practice on labelling of pork and pork products.

A total of nine companies including leading supermarkets and catering companies have signed up to the code and further retailers are expected to follow.

"British livestock is reared to the highest welfare standards in Europe. That's why many people buy our great meat and dairy products," Mr Benn said.

"They have the right to be sure that if a label says 'British' then that's where the animal was born, reared, milked or slaughtered.

"And that's what we are both fighting for in Europe."

Mr Benn also said that the government is creating the post of a supermarket ombudsman to back the Grocery Supply Code of Practice which came into force at the beginning of the month.

Mr Benn said the government had fought hard to get good deals for British farmers in Europe - refusing to sign the Soil Framework Directive which he said was not right for the UK farming community.

He said that they have been lobbying over the pesticides regulations, preventing the removal of some products.

And he added that the government will continue to press other states to stick to the 2012 deadline for the banning of barren cages for hens.

TheCattleSite News Desk

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