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Protect our Farmers by Tim Farron MP - March 2021

March 8, 2021 3:55 AM
By Tim Farron in GLD Challenge magazine 2020-21

TimFarronProtect our Farmers by Tim Farron MP - March 2021

2021 is going to be a big year for the Liberal Democrats campaigning to protect our natural environment. Now that the Transition Period is over, it is time for us to hold the Conservatives to their promises to support our farmers and protect and enhance our natural environment.

The Conservative Government is already pursuing trade deals across the world with little regard for the needs of farmers in the UK. Family farmers are the backbone of the British countryside and must not be ignored as the Conservatives scramble to minimise the economic damage of Brexit.

As you read this the Trade Bill is finishing its final sages in Parliament where the governing party have shot down every Liberal Democrat attempt to protect farmers. As Spokesperson for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, my Parliamentary colleagues and I were simply asking for the Conservative promises to maintain our high environmental and animal welfare standards to be written into law. This lack of political will to commit to conserving or even increasing nature in the UK is a bad sign of things to come.

It will fall to Liberal Democrats to defend family farmers from the Conservatives' disregard for their businesses. While we strongly support the new Environmental Land Management Scheme which will support farmers that are contributing to the welfare of our natural world, we are deeply concerned that the Basic Payments Scheme has already begun to be phased out before the new system is ready.

A lack of financial support for farmers could lead to devastating consequences for our natural environment. Many may have no choice but to cut the environmental goods to keep their businesses afloat until new support comes in, completely undermining the whole purpose of the new support scheme.

It could also lead to many farmers reconsidering and choosing to leave the industry altogether, robbing us of experienced stewards of our countryside who know significantly more than the Government about how to protect our natural environment. This would be equally destructive to our biodiversity, natural flood defences and more which are enhanced by the environmental stewardship of our farmers.

The Liberal Democrats are committed to large scale restoration of our peatlands, heathland, native woodlands, salt marshes and wetlands, as well as protecting and enhancing our natural World Heritage Sites, National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, All of this cannot be accomplished without the hard work and dedication of British farmers.

This year will be tough, but I look forward to working with our activists on the ground and supporting you through Parliament as much as possible. Together we can work to support people and wildlife in rural areas while ensuring the ecological crisis is not forgotten.


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