At the request of the NFU, I met local farmers to discuss their issues with me last Friday.
They raised a series of planning concerns. I set out for them the twin approaches of Coalition national policy – to give Councils more say over individual planning matters, and to give more general guidance towards facilitating change of use and development where possible. I suggested they met with local Councillors to discuss their wishes over the possible development or change of use of old farm buildings, which has to bee looked at in the context of the local plan.
They raised issues concerning CAP payments. I shared with them the views of the Environment Secretary, negotiating on their behalf in Brussels. The government does wish to obtain a good deal for UK farmers, but does of course have to reach agreement with 26 other countries. Many of these other countries have smaller and less efficient farms, with different financing needs.
We also discussed issues arising over the sale of home grown food, in the wake of the horsemeat problems. The farmers pointed out that they get a small fraction of the retail shelf price for meat, when selling to supermarkets. We discussed farm shop and local sales opportunities for their product.