Weekly Overview: UK Agriculture Becomes Highly Political Ahead of General Election

GLOBAL - The UK's National Farmers Union (NFU) held its annual conference in Birmingham this week and with the general election coming up in May, the discussions were more political than usual. In our weekly update on bird flu news, there are reports of new cases in people in China, Egypt and the Philippines, while Hungary, the Palestinian Territory, Nigeria, Myanmar and Viet Name have reported new outbreaks in poultry.
calendar icon 26 February 2015
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In this election year, the organisation's President called for politicians to ensure that the food chain works and the farming sector is given unhindered access to futures markets.

Politicians needed to do all they can to reduce the effects of volatility on the sector, he said.

While applauding the work of the Grocery Code Adjudicator and the fact that she has now been given the power to impose fines, Mr Raymond called on the next government to extend the powers of the adjudicator to oversee issues further down the supply chain.

The European agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan told the NFU conference that the historical purpose of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) was to ensure a sufficient supply of safe and sustainably produced food.

“Producing food is the primary role of farmers and the delivery of high-quality traceable food should be seen as a public good,” he said, adding that the latest reforms in the CAP mean that there is a market-oriented policy allowing farm businesses to decide for themselves what they want to produce on the basis of what they are good at and where the farmers can get a good price rather than looking for support from the European Commission.

In the government’s long-term economic plan for food and farming, secretary of state for the environment, food and rural affairs, Liz Truss sold the Conference in Birmingham that more needed to be done to help British farming by cutting red tape and building resilience.

In news of bird flu, further cases were reported of H7N9 flu in people in China and H5N1 in Egypt. There have been reports of new outbreaks in poultry in the Palestinian Territory, Nigeria, Myanmar (Burma) and Viet Nam – all thought to be the H5N1 variant – as well as the first outbreak caused by the H5N8 virus in Hungary.

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