Weekly Update from week commencing 23/08/2010
Posted by Jacob Rees-Mogg, MP for North East Somerset, at 18:03, Fri 10 September 2010:
North East Somerset covers an area of over 80,000 acres. This means that agriculture is an important part of our economy and community. I have recently been talking to local farmers at a meeting organised by the National Farmers Union in Camerton. Their concerns are ones that are relevant to the whole of society.
Over the last decade many dairy farmers have gone out of business. This has been because the price paid has not been enough to cover the costs even in an area like Somerset which has particularly lush grass and is therefore well suited to milk production. This has partly been because of failings in the Common Agricultural Policy but also because of the strength of the supermarkets. A large number of sellers and a small number of buyers is always a difficult position for the sellers.
Farmers have also suffered from increasingly complex regulation. As a subsidised business it receives more inspections from officials than are usual in the private sector. Moreover, because the CAP governs the whole of Europe rules are passed which may be relevant on the continent but are unimportant here.
Representing a rural area I feel it is important to support our farmers. In recent weeks both Russia and the Ukraine have limited their exports reminding us of the importance of “food security”. Ultimately England needs to be able to feed herself. This requires a prosperous farming community. Minimising regulation and buying local food will help ensure this and we can all do our bit.