Dismay over
loss of farm pay board

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THE Defra Secretary Owen Paterson will be the subject of a demonstration from angry farm workers today when he gives a speech at the Oxford Farming Conference.

Members of the Unite trade union will voice their opposition before Mr Paterson takes the podium in protest against the decision to scrap the Agricultural Wages Board (AWB).

Unite national officer for agriculture Julia Long said: “The Oxford demonstration is designed to show Owen Paterson that agricultural workers are very angry at what they see as a sustained attack on their living standards by a government that has sold out to the interests of agri-business.

“The announcement of the AWB’s scrapping in England and Wales, sneaked out just before Christmas, will hit the incomes of 140,000 agricultural workers, destroying a protection that they have enjoyed since the First World War.”

Unite has been against the scrapping of the AWB, with the union saying that the majority of responses to the government’s consultation were in favour of retention.

However other farming groups such as the NFU have backed the move, with Defra arguing removing the board will create jobs in the rural economy.

Farming Minister David Heath has used the conference to launch a movement to bring more young people into the farming industry.