Bill Quan, the new Chairman of Herefordshire NFU joined the Herefordshire Conservative Business Breakfast Forum, (HCBF), as the guest speaker, at the Harewood End Inn last Friday.

Bill told the group that he and his wife Gina are first generation tenant farmers farming at Howton Farm in Pontrilas. They produce cereals, oil seeds, potatoes and rear livestock mainly sheep. It was apparently a farm no one else wanted but has grown to nearly 900 acres. 

Bill explained why he took on the role of becoming the Chairman of Herefordshire NFU mainly because he felt the next two years will see the biggest challenges farming has seen since the 40’s. He also admires and respects Minette Batters, the President of the NFU, and felt he too should get involved and help the industry. 

The family are heavily involved in the Natural England Higher Level Stewardship Scheme by which they deliver “Production with Protection”, commercial farming along with habitat creation and restoration. They are also passionate about education and every year welcome 20/25 school visits. By the time the children leave they understand what they are eating and have more respect for the countryside. The Quans also believe in mentoring and regularly take on students to help progress their courses. 

Bill discussed climate change, the importance of soil, mental health issues in the farming community and the recent flooding. He explained how farmers should “produce more for less” and how “we are part of the solution and less of the problem”. 

He also expressed his concern about the present seasonal workers scheme saying the numbers were not enough to sustain food production and his worry that the hospitality and caring sectors would suffer too. 

Finally Bill said: “Our destiny is in our own hands, we have to be smart, viable, sustainable and resilient to succeed and survive”. 

Anthea McIntyre, Chairman of HCBF later commented: “Bill has been such a breath of fresh air with his straight talking and passion about farming. Herefordshire farmers are fortunate to have him”. 

Stephen Hay commented in his vote of thanks” Agriculture is part of the solution to the environment and Bill is so positive, extremely well informed and shows great leadership”.

Political figures gathered in the West Midlands today for a high-level conference on post-Brexit policy - just hours after the UK left European Union.

The event - titled “After Getting Brexit Done”- was organised by Anthea McIntyre to take place the morning after her mandate ended as Conservative MEP for the region.

Sessions covered at the Forest of Arden Marriott Hotel, Meriden, included security, tackling international crime and future trade opportunities for the West Midlands with Europe and the world.

It took place under the banner of the Conservative Friends of the European Conservative and Reformists Group, a group set up to maintain links with the party's centre-Right allies on the continent..

Key speakers included Financial Secretary to the Treasury Jesse Norman, Justice Minister Wendy Morton, and regional MPs Stuart Anderson and Saqib Bhatti.

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, stressed the economic strength and potential of the region which was showing 4.7 per cent growth and the best job-creation record in the country.

He said the region had for 40 years had endured the worst economic performance in the country but had been transformed "from laggard to leader."

Flemish MEP Assita Kanko, lead speaker in the crime debate, said Britain had left the EU but there was still much to be done to tackle cross-border crime such as human trafficking and terrorism and to protect children and women from abuse and exploitation.

She urged: "We must continue that fight together - despite our changed relationship. We must find a way for that good co-operation to continue undiminished."

Miss McIntyre said: "We are leaving the EU but not leaving Europe. We are engaging with the world, while seeking to maintain the close co-operation with the EU states which has served us well and kept us safe.

"This is important for both sides and for the global community. I believe that with a One Nation Government keen to level up Britain's economy, with a Conservative mayor and with key infrastructure investment on the cards, there is a very bright future for the West Midlands."

 

Britain is leaving the European Union but not leaving Europe, a senior Conservative MEP told today's debate in Brussels on the UK's withdrawal agreement.

Anthea McIntyre, MEP for the West Midlands, said Conservatives should be proud of their achievements and their legacy as they leave the European Parliament.

She used her farewell speech to thank friends and colleagues from across all the political groups for their co-operation over many years.

Miss McIntyre said: "We have certainly not always agreed, but we have all worked for what we believe is in the best interests of the people we represent. My overwhelming feeling is of a job well done, though not always understood back home! 

"It is important that we leave on good terms, with a climate of friendly co-operation for productive talks on a trade deal ahead. I’m not saying it will be easy, both sides are already taking up some tough positions. But that is what negotiation is all about. 

"Just as it was with the withdrawal agreement, so it is in the interests of all of us to have a trade deal.

"I speak as the proud daughter of a Scottish soldier who landed on the beaches of Normandy on D-day. We are all Europeans. We are certainly leaving the institutions of the European Union – but we are not leaving Europe.

The dangers posed by African Swine Fever (ASF) to British pig farming were highlighted in the European Parliament by Conservative
Agriculture spokesman Anthea McIntyre.

Miss McIntyre, MEP for the West Midlands, used her last speech in the parliament’s Agriculture Committee to raise concerns over the spread
of the disease and how disastrous it would be to the British pig population if it spread to the UK.

She explained the enormous concern of pig farmers on the edge of the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, which is home to a large poulation of
wile boar.

She said: “Britain was scarred forever by the devastating outbreak of foot and mouth disease in 2001 when over 6 million cows and sheep were
killed. Farmers in my area are very aware of the potential dangers of an outbreak of ASF.”

She went on to describe the circumstances for a local farmer who breeds Middle White pigs. “These pigs are a very rare breed. In fact,
they are more rare than the giant panda! An outbreak of ASF could completely wipe out the Middle White breed.

“ASF can be brought in to a country through contaminated meat products, maybe in a sandwich, and it is then spread by wild boar. I
do not believe that the authorities are doing enough to control the wild boar population in the Forest of Dean.

“The importance of bio security is very well recognised, but it is just not possible for every farmer to protect their farms from the
encroachment of wild boar. The practicality of keeping wild boar out, as I know for myself, is just about impossible.”

The Committee was told that ASF only affects wild boar and domestic pigs and that it kills one hundred percent of infected animals.

Fears that Britain will stop addressing climate change seriously after Brexit are unfounded and unfair, a senior MEP says.

The assurance came from Anthea McIntyre MEP, Conservative environment spokesman, as the European Parliament's Environment Committee debated its response to the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement.

The West Midlands MEP said the UK remained a front runner in the area of climate action and much could be learnt from its regulatory practices as well as the EU's.

The UK began the world's first large scale application of emissions trading to greenhouse gases in 2002, significantly ahead of the EU ETS in 2005. And it had been an important driver for reforms of the EU ETS to establish a competitive carbon price.

She continued: "In June 2019, the UK became the first major economy in the world to adopt legislation to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

"And this law rests on firm foundations. UK emissions have been progressively falling since our Climate Change Act entered into force on 1st January 2008. In 2018, the UK’s emissions were 44 percent below 1990 levels, while our economy grew by two-thirds over the same period.

"As these accomplishments attest, the UK will continue to be a reliable and valued partner for mutual learning as both parties incentivise the roll-out of green technologies and put their economies on a path to decarbonisation.

"Looking to the future, I really hope that the EU will adopt a science-based, evidence-based approach to policy making. It is something I have championed for the eight years I have been an MEP and it has never been more important than it is today. 

"There is much good to be gained from new technologies such as GM and gene-editing in plant development and I really hope the EU will look at the evidence and support these methods of plant production. 

"This is something the UK will be free to pursue. So, instead of french farmers buying their GM animal feed from across the Atlantic, perhaps in future they will buy it from across the Channel."