Defra minister to visit the North East

The newest member of the team at Defra will be making an appearance in the region soon, as Jo Blakemore reports

Owen Paterson
Owen Paterson

Farmers in the North East will be able to discuss their industry with the Government’s new farming spokesman when he visits the region for a conference.

Farming Minister George Eustice has been confirmed as keynote speaker at this year’s Northern Farming Conference being held soon in Hexham.

Mr Eustice, who represents a Cornish seat, has been an MP since May 2010 and is a former member of the Environment and Rural Affairs Select Committee. He was promoted to Farming Minister last month, assuming responsibility for Defra’s farming brief.

Owen Paterson, who himself visited Northumberland for a question-and-answer session in early summer, will retain ultimate responsibility for all Defra policies as Secretary of State.

Mr Eustice is from a farming background and his family still run a fruit farm, restaurant and farm shop in Cornwall.

He will discuss the latest CAP update, reducing risk in UK farming businesses, support to new entrants and on-going education in farming, Defra support for farming, reducing red tape and the future of agri-environment schemes.

He said: “The North of England is home to some of Britain’s most iconic landscapes, as well as some of the most challenging conditions for British farmers. I want to do all I can to help you overcome these challenges and take all the opportunities that come with Britain’s global reputation for quality food.

“We are already cutting unnecessary paperwork, investing in farming technologies for the future and helping to inspire the next generation of talent to join the industry.

“I’m looking forward to joining the Northern Farming Conference and taking your views on what more the Government can do to help the industry thrive.”

Alastair Cochrane, land management partner at rural consultancy Strutt & Parker’s Morpeth office, added: “This is quite a coup for the Northern Farming Conference.

“It will give Northern farmers the opportunity to make their voice heard by the minister, thereby hopefully influencing the shape of Government policy and, potentially, CAP reform.”

The Northern Farming Conference has found a new home for 2013, taking place this year at Hexham Auction Mart on Wednesday, November 13.

Now in its fourth year, the conference aims to provide a range of information on developments across the agricultural industry to help farm businesses plan for the next 12 months and beyond.

Previous events have attracted healthy crowds and it is hoped that this year’s event will draw 300 delegates.

Once again, an impressive line-up of speakers has been assembled, led by Farm Minister George Eustice.

Other speakers include leading economist Allan Buckwell; North West dairy farmer and Nuffield Scholar Ian Pye; Northumberland farmer and Monitor Farm Project lead, Simon Bainbridge; Yorkshire carrot farmer and 2012 Farmers Weekly Farmer of the Year Guy Poskitt; 2011 Arable Farmer of the Year Colin McGregor; and Donald MacPherson, a Borders beef farmer.

Previous speakers have ranged across a number of backgrounds, but the aim has always been the same: a “muddy boots” conference giving farmers and those advising them information on developments across the agriculture industry to help farm business planning over the next year and beyond.

Speakers have been invited to best support this aim from across farming and land management sectors, academia, representative bodies and public services.

The Northern Farming Conference is a joint venture between the CLA, Strutt & Parker, Bond Dickinson, Armstrong Watson, Catchment Sensitive Farming, Hexham & Northern Marts and Gibson & Co Solicitors, supported by the Agricultural Mortgage Corporation (AMC).

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