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Farmers' voices 'must be heard'
A SOUTH Lakeland-based sheep industry leader has this week called for a new farming alliance to be created to tackle food chain problems in the wake of the horsemeat scandal.
John Geldard, chairman of the National Sheep Association, said farming groups should get together to provide a voice to make sure ministers listen to the views of food producers.
He has invited major UK agricultural organisations and unions to a ‘summit’ in London tomorrow (Fri-day) to discuss the issues.
“It is clear the farmer’s voice is not being heard well enough by the Government and farming ministers, yet we are the foundation of the food supply chain, without whom the consumer would be hungry,” said Mr Geldard, who farms at Low Foulshaw, Levens.
“The horsemeat scandal and lack of consultation in finding solutions and future-proofing secure food supplies shows existing communication between farmers and the Government is inadequate.
“I see this as the catalyst to create a new alliance of farmer organisations that can support Government in meeting our future food challenges.
“We have tried hard to promote the food security warnings of the UK’s chief scientific advisor, and the horsemeat scandal is evidence that Government has failed to listen.
“It is a shameful disgrace that on January 1, 2012 they failed to support UK egg producers when they were ready for the ban on battery cages and the rest of Europe wasn’t.
“And that on January 1, 2013, our Government and Brussels failed to implement the law and protect the UK pig producers who were working within it. And that for the last two to three months sheep farmers, already strug-gling with the impact of the weather on lamb prices, were unknowingly competing with horsemeat distorting the market.
“These are all reasons why the farming industry should not be prepared to just listen to messages from the Government and Food Standards Agency to retailers, but needs to stand up and present our own case to protect both ourselves and consumers.”