Children of farmers ‘silenced’ due to 'anti-dairy, anti-meat' narrative, says MP

Children of farmers “feel they are being silenced”, Conservative MP Alicia Kearns told the Commons, as she warned of an “anti-dairy, anti-meat, and frankly anti-farmer narrative”.

Speaking about discussing climate change in schools, the Rutland and Melton MP spoke on the issue in a far-reaching debate in the House of Commons.

She said: “I am concerned by the anti-dairy, anti-meat, and frankly anti-farmer narrative that I’m starting to see where students and children of farmers feel they are being silenced and can’t speak out in support of their families who feed our country.”

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Education Secretary Kit Malthouse said: “I am very alarmed, as a rural member myself, very alarmed to hear the honourable lady’s stories. She is right that we should be encouraging schools to educate children about where food comes from, and indeed about the very high standards that UK farmers produce.”

There is an 'anti-farmer narrative' according to one MPThere is an 'anti-farmer narrative' according to one MP
There is an 'anti-farmer narrative' according to one MP

He added: “There is a way to intrigue and make children curious about some of the challenges to climate change that’s brought about by farming. Not least, I have to say, I read recently about an additive made from seaweed you can add to dairy cow’s feed which reduces the amount of methane that they produce.”

Earlier Education Minister Jonathan Gullis accused Labour of being “a bit negative” about the teaching profession amid concerns over a recruitment and retention “crisis”. Shadow Schools Minister Stephen Morgan said: “This Government has no ambition for our children’s futures. Soaring council schools in deficit, attainment gap at a decade high and the Schools Bill ripped up.

“But, recruitment and retention of secondary school teachers, not just prime ministers, is in crisis. Estimates of DfE data suggest the Government is set to fall 34 percentage points below its recruitment target, so can the minister explain what specific action he is taking to stop the rot and how he will fix his own Government’s failure on this?”

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Mr Gullis replied: “(He) has the opportunity to stand at the despatch box and talk up the teaching profession, talk up our schools, talk up the reforms that since 2010 and 2011 that has seen the attainment gap narrowed, until of course the global pandemic, which has affected every single sector of our economy, sadly in way that of course we don’t want, but we are putting the effort in.”

Labour’s Jeff Smith (Manchester, Withington) said “teacher vacancies were up 240 per cent since 2011”, adding: “What steps is the Minister taking to address pay, stress and an unmanageable workload ?”

Mr Gullis replied: “It’s ashame (he) uses this opportunity to be a bit negative about theprofession, because whenwe’re trying to recruit and retain staff what we need is people talking up what a great profession it is to work in.”