Thursday, 31 October 2013

Nick Clegg bangs another nail into the DEFRA coffin

I thought I would spare you a picture of Nick Clegg.

Not only have we lost two excellent ministers from DEFRA in recent times, Sir Jim Paice and Richard Benyon, who both (for a change) actually understood farming and the way the countryside works, but now it also appears that DEFRA has been weakened further. Apparently, it was Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg who was responsible for the decision to remove the Ministerial rank from Defra’s farming role, the Department’s chief civil servant told MPs this week.

The recent Ministerial reshuffle saw Lib Dem David Heath replaced by Tory George Eustice as Farming Minister. But whereas Mr Heath carried the rank of Minister of State, Mr Eustice is a more junior Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, leaving Defra as one of the few Whitehall Departments without a Minister of State.

The downgrading of the farming role has been criticised by MPs and industry leaders, with former Farming Minister Sir Jim Paice, suggesting it raised questions about the Government’s commitment to DEFRA and its agenda. NFU president Peter Kendall said the industry ‘ought to have an explanation’ over the apparent downgrading of the farming role in Defra.

Neil Parish, Conservative MP for Tiverton and Honiton said, “Agriculture has never been a more pressing issue than it is today and farming is a vital part of the rural economy. Food security is a grave challenge facing governments around the world. By 2050 the global population estimated to reach nine billion and it will take innovation and political will to increase food production to meet this demand. Many people in rural areas and the food and farming industries will see this as a snub from the deputy prime minister and I hope he will reconsider and give farming the support it deserves." 
I agree.

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