Labour's Shadow Defra Secretary visits farmers in the Fens

Shadow Defra Secretary Luke Pollard (second left) heard the key issues affecting farmers in the Fens
Shadow Defra Secretary Luke Pollard (second left) heard the key issues affecting farmers in the Fens

Fenland farmers have raised their concerns to the Shadow Defra Secretary as he visited a farm in the important agricultural area following Labour's revamp of its rural policies.

Shadow environment secretary Luke Pollard and Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner spent more than two hours on Peter Hatley’s farm at Landbeach, Cambridgeshire.

They outlined the principles behind the Labour Party's recent rural review, discussing key farming issues.

During wide-ranging discussions, the group described the impact of rural crime on farming businesses, including hare coursing and fly-tipping.

Farmers stressed their frustration at having to pay to remove fly-tipped waste from their land, an example of the victim paying the cost of the crime.

They also highlighted the importance of flood protection measures and drainage in areas such as the Fens and how insufficient rural broadband is holding back productivity for many farm businesses.

Both MPs were given a copy of the NFU's Delivering for Britain report as well, which looks at the pivotal role that food and farming fulfils in the Fens.

There are an estimated 4,000 farms in the area, covering all sectors of agriculture and horticulture.

NFU County Adviser Hannah Padfield said: “We were pleased to welcome Mr Pollard to Cambridgeshire, a hugely important county for agriculture, at the start of this year-long policy review.

“This is a rural policy review, covering more than pure agricultural issues, so it will also look at areas such as transport, housing provision and employment opportunities.

“He stressed that he is keen to hear from as many NFU members as possible as part of the review process so there is a real opportunity to get our views across in the next few months.”

Mr Pollard said that 'no party can claim to represent the country if it doesn’t represent the countryside'.

“Labour's review will ensure that our next manifesto provides as much hope and opportunity to rural communities as it does to those living in towns and cities,” he added.