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Farming Industry

Volume 517: debated on Thursday 4 November 2010

This country has a highly competitive pig and poultry industry that is completely unsubsidised and relies heavily on imported feed. Will the Minister assure us that we can get a greater threshold when allowing imports of non-genetically modified feed into the country, otherwise we will export our industry abroad?

My hon. Friend makes an important point. Discussions are taking place in Europe about the threshold for the import of GM soya, predominantly, which is what he is talking about, and I can assure him that we will be taking a constructive view to those negotiations. Quite clearly it would be pointless to deprive our livestock sector of something in a way that simply means we import more livestock products that have been fed on GM food.

Farmers clearly cannot be competitive if supermarkets have got them in an arm lock. In response to the question from the hon. Member for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire (Simon Hart), the Minister rightly supported the Government policy of enforcing the grocery code supply practice. However, will he acknowledge that there is anxiety in the farming community about the fact that the Government may not be introducing this legislation soon enough. Can he reassure us that they will take the earliest opportunity to bring it forward?

May I recognise and pay tribute to the sterling work that my hon. Friend has done on this matter over a number of years in bringing forward this proposition, which is now Government policy? I can reassure him that I am constantly talking to my colleagues in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and urging them to bring this forward, because I fully recognise its importance to the whole of the agriculture industry.