Monday, October 04, 2010

Lib Dems lack say in farm policy-making

Defra is just one of three government departments that does not include a Lib Dem minister. Moreover, all the ministers in the department have strong farming links, inclining them towards a productionist agenda.

Lib Dem farm spokesman Andrew George, the MP for West Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, has criticised the Conservative stranglehold on posts. Differences have emerged on the proposed badger cull and the decision to abolish the Agricultural Wages Board.

Mr George has been trying to work with the Secretary of State, Caroline Spelman, to have some say about how budget cuts are made. However, he has admitted that he was 'not yet in the inner circle of Defra ministers'.

Most disagreements are likely to be over matters of domestic policy such as the two that arisen already, rather than attitudes towards the CAP where both parties share a relatively liberal, market oriented stance. However, the Lib Dems are particularly attuned to the concerns of smaller farmers from whom they receive electoral support.

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