Farmers want to bring back free school milk and defy EU

SECURING a full return of free school milk is among a list of key election issues set to dominate farming lobbying efforts.

Arla Food UK has announced a 1.67 pence per litre price cut.

The National Farmers Union has set out a political manifesto as it prepares the ground ahead of the 2015 General Election, with free school milk among the easy gains it is pushing for.

Also making the farming wishlist is a call for the UK to stand up to the EU over strict environmental regulations, the need for a greater emphasis on home-grown food production, a ban on Chinese lanterns and even a bid to increase the speed limit for tractors.

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Ministers have already agreed to subsidise the return of some classroom milk handouts from next year, but the policy is regarded as patchy with no long-term Government commitment.

The milk call was part of a wider demand for political parties to recognise the importance of UK food producers.

NFU President Meurig Raymond said that with polls hinting at another coalition or minority Government in 2015, the time was right to seek to influence would be MPs and those in marginal seats.

“It appears that we will be seeing a very tight election, in which marginal seats will be very important. Those are the seats the parties will put a lot of time and effort into, and we want to make sure this message is heard there.

“People say farming is only two per cent of the population, but in certain seats in the country, in some coalition seats, we can have a big say.”

Mr Raymond said that for many farmers rural broadband remained a problem.

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