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Government neglects future of farming and risks disease outbreaks

February 17, 2009 10:02 AM

Defra's continued neglect of the farming industry is undermining hardworking farmers across the UK according to Liberal Democrat Defra Spokesperson Tim Farron MP who has uncovered figures revealing a decline in the amount of Government funding charged with improving the UK's food security.

According to figures obtained by Mr Farron, the amount of funding allocated by the Department for research into sustainable farming and food has decreased by over 25% in just four years. Over the same period of time, the amount of money given for research into animal health has declined by 10%.

Mr Farron has argued the figures reflect the trend of under-investment in agricultural research and development which has been the hallmark of this Labour Government and has expressed his concern that such reluctance to invest will leave the farming industry ill-prepared for future challenges.

Commenting Mr Farron said:

"A Government's priorities can always be judged according to where they invest their money. The fact that year on year this Government has scaled back the amount of funding invested into research for sustainable farming and animal health tells you all you need to know about where this Government's priorities lie.

"Labour has offered up lip service to the problems of farmers', whilst at the same time their under-investment in agricultural research and development has left a legacy of neglect for the countryside which could last well into the next decade.

"Their indifference towards investment in animal research is quite frankly alarming. Questions must be asked of this Government's ability to react to future crises given the decline in investment coupled with the recent decision to scrap the scheduled redevelopment of Pirrbight.

"Labour has a responsibility to future generations to make investment in agricultural development a priority. Our farmers are increasingly coming under pressure from the challenges of animal health, environmental responsibilities and food production, but it's patently obvious for anyone to see that Labour's priorities lie away from farming and away from the countryside. If this Government is serious about supporting the farming industry then this trend has to be reversed."

1. Parliamentary Question tabled by Tim Farron MP http://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2009-03-11b.257799.h&s=Tim+Farron#g257799.q0