UK Politics

Kerry McCarthy: I support British farming

Kerry McCarthy

Labour's environment spokeswoman Kerry McCarthy has said she wholeheartedly backs British farmers, acknowledging they are facing "tough" times.

She told the party's conference that some people were "worried" about her appointment because she was a vegan.

But she said much of the food she ate was produced by British farmers and she wanted the public to consume "more British lamb and British apples".

She also pledged to fight any attempt to repeal the hunting ban.

Ms McCarthy was a surprise appointment as shadow environment secretary earlier this month, given her previous criticism of environmental and welfare standards in farming.

She said she was honoured to be given the position, in which she said she would be a champion for the natural environment and rural communities as well as the British food industry.

She joked that although she was a vegan - meaning she consumes no meat, eggs nor dairy - she did "actually eat food".

'Food labelling'

"Let me make this clear, I support British farming and want it to be economically viable, environmentally sustainable and to have the very best animal welfare standards," she said.

Instead of being the "force for good" that it could be, she suggested the Department for Environment was letting down farmers and other rural industries.

"I know farmers are finding it tough, not being paid enough for what they produce, too much paperwork, late payments, being hit by the exchange rate, and a system of subsidies - the Common Agricultural Policy - that needs fundamental review.

"I would much rather see people buy British lamb and British apples than imports from half way around the world. We need better food labelling so we know where our food is from and what is in it...we can all get behind that whatever we eat."

She accused the government of trying to bring back the hunting of foxes with hounds in England by the "back door" and promised to fight any attempt to legalise what she described as a "cruel sport".

While recognising the damage done to farmers by bovine TB, she said she was opposed to the policy of badger culling which she said "inhumane and unscientific", describing the pilot culls in parts England in recent years as an "epic failure".

Related Topics

More on this story