EU farm action demo: UK farming unions meet with ministers in Brussels

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The UK farming unions have met with the UK farming ministers for the second time in three weeks to discuss the urgent ongoing cash flow crisis across agriculture.

Around 70 UK farmers joined the thousands taking part in the COPA farming demo today and the four farming union Presidents of the NFU, NFU Scotland, NFU Cymru and Ulster Farmers’ Union held the separate meeting ahead of the extraordinary Agriculture Council held in Brussels.

In a joint statement the UK Presidents said: “Right now, today, farmers are really struggling to pay their bills. This is having a huge impact not only on farming families but for other businesses that rely on the farming sector. We have strongly urged our UK ministers to argue for more flexibility from the commission to allow the UK government, and the devolved administrations, to pay farmers BPS and agri-environment monies at the very least on time and in full. This will help put money where it is needed most.

“We want to see a review of intervention for milk prices to help put a floor in the market and a review of market management measures to help farmers get through this short-term crisis.

“And we have asked the Secretary of State Liz Truss and the devolved ministers to argue for the European Investment Bank to provide financial support to businesses. The UK government should work with the EIB to develop and deliver opportunities for UK farmers from the EIB – for short term credit and long term infrastructure to boost the agri food sector.

“There was agreement in the meeting that a wide-spread culture change is needed within the food supply chain to ensure that farmers see a fair share of risk and reward. The minister said this culture change will come about by ‘building a consensus across the supply chain’ and that she wanted government to show leadership by implementing the ambitious public procurement food policy across all government departments to see more local, high quality food procured. This needs to happen – and soon. We have asked for a clear timetable and agreed milestones to turn talk into action.

“The government and devolved ministers need to deliver on their promises; work together to achieve this culture change across the supply chain and to see real understanding of the cost of production to farmers.”