Wealden is a beautiful place, with rolling countryside, stunning forests and energetic towns. Wealden is also home to many amazing farms, which are the lifeblood of rural life. I want to build a Rural Powerhouse, one known for its thriving small businesses, including its farms and vineyards, as for the beauty of its countryside.
Farms need our support because they are not just a resource there for us to exploit. They are entrepreneurs on whom we depend and it is our responsibility to fight for their interests, and to behave in a way that makes their businesses sustainable.
One way in which we can treat our farmers better is to pay more for our milk. Why, when you think about it, do we think it reasonable to pay more for bottled water than for milk? Why are we so willing to cheat our farmers out of the income they deserve and work hard for just because the system means they are price takers?
This puts the viability of their businesses in danger and is an issue I am particularly concerned out. In Wealden, a few of our supermarkets have signed up to support this campaign and I am seeking to get all of them on board. The Government has also secured a £26 million of emergency funding for our dairy farmers.
I hold regular meetings with the National Farmers Union, and have also held several pub meetings across Wealden with the local farming community to hear their views. As a result of hearing the concerns of some of them, I led a House of Commons debate on tenant farming to raise concerns about the length and security of tenancy agreements, and liaised with Sussex Police to help tackle rural crime.
Here are a few more of the things I am doing for our farmers:
- Called on all of us to buy local in the Sussex Express, in support of our farmers
- Called in the International Business Times for dairy farmers not to be “creamed” over the price of milk
- Wrote of my campaign to create a Rural Powerhouse, and the importance of championing rural businesses and farms
- Wrote to the Farming Minister to raise two issues affecting sheep farmers in my constituency, including specified risk material removal in sheep and access to non-electronic batch tags for lambs – my letter is at the bottom of this page
- I meet regularly with the National Farmers Union to discuss food security, supporting British farmers and the undervalued role of local food production industry
- Supporting Wealden's vineyards, a key part of the thriving British wine industry
2016 was an important year for our farmers, because it was the Year of Great British Food. The Government promoted British produce and exports by setting up the Great British Food Unit, to better champion the excellence of British food and drink worldwide.
At the end of 2015, I was delighted to be appointed as a Parliamentary Representative for the Conservative Rural Affairs Group. This allowed me to better campaign on behalf of our farmers, and I’m looking forward to fighting for them into the future.
Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill
The Government is committed to maintaining the very highest standards of animal welfare and is committed to legislating for animal sentience. There has never been any question that this Government believes that animals are sentient beings. We are introducing legislative reforms which provide further reassurance that government policymaking recognises the sentience of animals.
In May 2021, the Government launched the Action Plan for Animal Welfare (‘Action Plan’). This landmark document, the first of its kind for animal welfare, will set out our ambitious reform programme and commitments to improve the lives of animals in the UK and abroad. The Action Plan groups our commitments and intentions around five key themes: sentience and enforcement, international advocacy and trade, farm animals, pets and sporting animals, and wild animals.
The Action Plan for Animal Welfare sets out Government’s plans on animal welfare for this Parliament and beyond. The document provides a high-level overview of over forty policy reforms we intend to tackle across five different workstreams, outlined below with our key proposals pulled out:
- Sentience and Enforcement: Our landmark Sentience Bill will recognise and enshrine animal sentience in law, and will create an expert committee on animal sentience to report on government decisions, holding Ministers accountable to Parliament for animal welfare in policy making, in a targeted and proportionate way. In addition we will support more legislation to improve enforcement – such as the use of penalty notices.
- International Trade and Advocacy: We will ensure our high animal welfare standards are not compromised in our trade negotiations and we will use our position as a global leader for international advocacy on animal welfare. Legislation will be introduced to ban the import of hunting trophies from endangered animals broad, to ban the import and export of detached shark fins, and to stop the advertising and sale here of unacceptable animal attractions abroad. We will explore next steps on the fur and foie gras trades and implement the Ivory Act.
- Farm Animals: As part of protecting and enhancing the welfare of farm animals we will end the export of live animals for slaughter and fattening. Our upcoming consultation on food labelling will consider reforms to make it easier for consumers to purchase food that aligns with their welfare values. We will support livestock farmers financially via our ‘Animal Health and Welfare Pathway’. Further reforms in this area include introducing effective powers to tackle ‘livestock worrying’ and considering other improvements to welfare on the farm, such as examining the use of cages for laying hens and farrowing crates for pigs.
- Pets and Sporting Animals: We will bring forward legislation to tackle the trade in puppy smuggling and introduce compulsory cat microchipping. Our cross-Government taskforce will crack down on pet theft and we will also take forward wider reforms such as the licensing of animal sanctuaries, as well as consider improvements for racing greyhounds and for equine identification.
- Wild Animals: Keeping primates as pets will be prohibited by law, and we will consider further legislation for a close season for hares whilst cracking down on the illegal practice of hare coursing. We will improve standards for zoos, including in relation to their conservation activities. We will also consider restricting the use of glue traps for pest control and bringing forward measures to tackle wildlife crime.