DUP MEP Diane Dodds has spoken of “alarm within the industry” in reaction to the announcement that Labour’s Kerry McCarthy MP has been appointed the new Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Mrs Dodds described the decision by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as ‘bizarre’.
Mrs Dodds said: “This week, in what I can only describe as a bizarre move by the new leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, a self-confessed vegan and animal welfare campaigner has been handed the important role of Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
“This is an announcement which has shocked, alarmed and puzzled many within farming and political circles, and quite rightly so.
“As far as I am aware, Kerry McCarthy has no links to agriculture, or even to a rural constituency, given that she is the MP for Bristol East. She has no apparent connection or understanding of the day-to-day reality facing farmers and indeed the valuable role they play in producing food, maintaining and enhancing the environment, or how they form rural fibre and economic prosperity of rural areas. Such a detachment from these facts really does make me question the appointment.”
Mrs Dodds highlighted a number of issues, particularly what she described as “an array of quotes and views attributed to Ms McCarthy which would concern anyone involved in the agri-food sector”.
Mrs Dodds continued: “Most significant perhaps, she has been reported as saying that meat, dairy and egg industries ‘cause immense suffering to more than a billion animals every year in the UK alone, most of whom spend their lives crammed inside dark, filthy sheds’.
“Ms McCarthy is also the patron of the Vegan Society, which believes ‘animal farming is no longer sustainable and severely damaging the environment’. These statements are frankly untrue and smear an industry which takes seriously its commitments to food security, food safety, animal welfare and the environment.
“Many ask how someone with such an anti-farming and anti-meat mindset can hold such a position. The appointment also raises a wider question around the future obligations that the agri-food sector will have to undergo in terms of directing public relations efforts to counter the unfounded views held by Ms McCarthy.”
Mrs Dodds added: “Ultimately, this is a worrying development for agriculture right across the United Kingdom and one which should not be welcomed or deemed acceptable. It is one of many mistakes within the new shadow cabinet.”