Trade minister to meet farmers after omission

Representatives from the National Farmers' Union will hold talks with Liam Fox, the Secretary of State for International Trade, next month as they seek clarification on how his new government department will support British agriculture.

Liam Fox will meet with farming industry figures at the start of next month, the NFU said. Pic: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Union president Meurig Raymond accused the Government of forgetting about food and farming in crucial post-Brexit international trade talks by failing to appoint a minister with specific responsibilities for agriculture within the department.

Mr Raymond said: “We are concerned about the notable omission of agriculture and the food and drink sector from the Department’s portfolios. Food and drink is the largest manufacturing sector in the UK, worth £108bn and farming underpins its success.

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“Members can be assured that wheels are in motion on this issue; we’re in contact with the Department, a NFU meeting with Liam Fox is already confirmed for the beginning of September and we’re actively seeking clarification on where this important responsibility lies.”

Last week, the Country Land and Business Association also expressed its alarm at the situation. Its director general, Helen Woolley, said the new department had got off to “a terrible start”.

The concerns have been raised at a time when many farmers are working around the clock to bring in the nation’s harvest.

With some farming sectors, such as horticulture, relying heavily on non-UK seasonal and year-round workers throughout their grower businesses the NFU has called for access to labour to be a key consideration in the on-going talks to shape a new domestic agriculture policy.