The present Crisis in British Agriculture is directly caused by the abandonment by the Conservative Government of guaranteed prices and deficiency payments, just as the sugar crisis has largely been caused in this country by the abandonment of the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement.
Mr. King: How is that comment to be reconciled with the letter from the NFU today which states that, despite the recent difficulties, the NFU is "grateful for the sympathy, substantial practical assistance and extensive public expenditure" devoted by the Government to tackling this unprecedented Crisis in British Agriculture?
How is that comment to be reconciled with the letter from the NFU today which states that, despite the recent difficulties, the NFU isgrateful for the sympathy, substantial practical assistance and extensive public expendituredevoted by the Government to tackling this unprecedented Crisis in British Agriculture?
It said:on behalf of the farming community the NFU is grateful for the sympathy, substantial practical assistance and extensive public expenditure that has been devoted by Government to tackling this unprecedented Crisis in British Agriculture.
BSE has cost the farming industry and the British taxpayer billions of pounds and I shall take no lectures from a supporter of the previous Government, whose incompetence in handling BSE has given British Agriculture the Biggest Crisis that it has faced this century.
It is bit much for the Opposition, who were in power from 1979 to 1997 and who, I have no doubt, were responsible for the mounting Crisis in British Agriculture, to turn round and expect an incoming Government to resolve in six months all the problems that have been festering in agriculture.
May I ask the right hon. Lady to consider - if not next week, in the fairly near future - a full-day debate on the Crisis in British Agriculture?
This motion, together with the question that my party leader, my right hon. Friend the Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown), asked the Prime Minister last week at the first Prime Minister's questions since the recess, underscores the fundamental importance that the Liberal Democrats attach to the Crisis in British Agriculture, and to the knock-on ramifications for the food chain and for wider rural policy.
It may be very important to bullfinches, but it is not exactly relevant to the Crisis in British Agriculture.
That is the measure of the Crisis in British Agriculture.
Will the Prime Minister also acknowledge that, given the extent of the Crisis in British Agriculture generally, it is unfortunate that, apart from one illegal suggestion, the leader of the Conservative party does not have one positive proposal to make?
We are experiencing the biggest Crisis in British Agriculture since the 1930s, and we need every minute to discuss it today.
I beg to move, That this House expresses its profound concern about the Crisis in British Agriculture, demonstrated by the collapse in farm incomes and loss of jobs; notes that, since the launch of the Government's Action Plan for Farming, incomes have continued to fall and many of the promises remain unfulfilled; condemns the Government for its failure to address this crisis and for its damaging policies which have made matters even worse; and calls on the Government to end the competitive disadvantage suffered by British farmers as a result of red tape, gold-plating and over-regulation, to introduce honesty in food-labelling and to restrict the flow of sub-standard food imports.
The Government ought to be concentrating on the Crisis in British Agriculture, a crisis that is affecting all those involved in farming and rural industries.
I must, as always, declare an interest as someone who tries to farm, albeit on the verge of bankruptcy due to the dire Crisis in British Agriculture, and being president of the British Association of Bio Fuels.
My Lords, does the level of suicides among farm workers and farm owners in the countryside provide ample evidence of a Crisis in British Agriculture, leading to the need for a longer-term strategy of support for the countryside and agriculture alike, beyond the mechanics of the common agricultural policy?