South-west Agriculture and Fishing

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:08 pm on 19th October 2016.

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Photo of Anne Marie Morris Anne Marie Morris Conservative, Newton Abbot 5:08 pm, 19th October 2016

I totally agree. There is a huge appetite to buy local; it is just that people do not know how to do that. Those of us who live in rural communities are privileged in a way, because we have all sorts of farm shops and we all know about them, but those who live in the cities do not get the same opportunity, other than when there is a local market or whatever. There is certainly an issue in trying to bring the best of rural England to the cities and other parts of the country so that they can understand and see the benefits—certainly in taste—that we can bring them.

There are other things we could do, such as introducing a crop insurance scheme that looks at the challenges farmers face when over a year we have bad weather and a crop fails. If we did that, we could have checks and balances to help our farmers. However, we need something that really works and not something that creates a milk mountain—that would be the wrong way forward. Of course, we need to invest in science, because if we are to move forward and increase our market share and footprint, we need investment in research to go ahead.

With regard to the fishermen, I entirely support all that my Cornish colleagues have said. The quota system does not work. I am not suggesting that we should cut off anyone from fishing in our waters, but it needs to be fairer, because at the moment the French quota for plaice is twice as big as ours, for Dover sole it is two thirds more and for cod it is five sixths more than ours. That really is not acceptable.

We need a fair quota system. We need also sustainable fishing—at the moment that is largely ignored in large parts of Europe—and to deal once and for all with the discard problem, because although the EU has talked about that for many years, we still have not resolved it. There is much to do, and I am absolutely sure that the British Government can put agriculture and fishing first.