NFU leader demands 'special deal' for farmers

THE Government has been urged to work for a future for Britain's hill farmers and not just treat them as custodians of the countryside.

Peter Kendall, president of the National Farmers' Union (NFU), said the country's remote and disadvantaged areas needed to be made a special case in order to continue in existence.

Mr Kendall also had hard words to say on this week's controversial Lancet report which stated the UK should dispose of a third of its livestock herd to cut greenhouse gases. He described the Government-backed study as "unbelievably naive" and said such a move would cause far more damage to the environment by causing a surge in food imports.

Mr Kendall made his remarks while speaking at the NFU's York East AGM in Flaxton, near York.

"Farming and food production employs nearly four million people," he said. "To cut away a chunk of the livestock sector and import it from other parts of the world would be damaging on many levels."

Mr Kendall added that he was "optimistic" about a supermarket ombudsman being appointed, as negotiations within Government continue on the subject.

"I think Defra are working hard for an ombudsman," he said.

"I expect a decision before Christmas. It might not be the belt and braces ombudsman we initially wanted but i think it will be a policeman with a bite."

Elsewhere at the meeting Yorkshire farmer Paul Temple announced he would challenge to become the NFU's number two.

Mr Temple, who farms from Driffield, stepped down from the NFU's deputy president's job this year citing personal reasons.

However yesterday he announced he is planning to challenge current vice president, Meurig Raymond, at elections due to be held in February next year.