West Midlands MEP Anthea McIntyre has joined farmers and producers' groups in a "flash" event outside the European Parliament to highlight unfair trading practices by retail giants.

Miss McIntyre, Conservative agriculture spokesman, joined the action in Strasbourg ahead of key vote on proposals to deliver a fairer deal for growers and protection from bullying by major supermarket chains.

COPA COGECA, the European farmers' and co-operatives trade body, organised the event which saw tractors parked outside the parliament building with a message "#CutTheUnfair".

Miss McIntyre has played a key role in shaping EU-wide proposals put forward by the parliament's Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee. They aim to protect farmers and suppliers from sharp practice including late payments and last-minute cancellation of contracts for fresh produce.

They also demand greater clarity in supply agreements.

At Miss McIntyre's recommendation, the proposals draw on the experience of the UK's Groceries Code Adjudicator, a position created in 2013 to re-evaluate the relationship between supermarkets and their suppliers.

After the event,  Miss McIntyre said: "We were aiming to send a clear message to any wavering MEPs that farmers and growers are not seeking special status - just respect and fairness from the businesses which ultimately depend on them.

"It would be good if this could happen everywhere without the intervention of politicians or regulation,  but sadly there a some big businesses out there that will seek to take unfair advantage from what they see as a one-sided relationship.

"I am pleased that the UK has taken a lead in providing a solution and set the course for the rest of Europe."

British vineyards are heading for a bumper year  - and it could finally seal their international reputation for quality.

Anthea McIntyre MEP, an official ambassador for English regional wines, said: "I am confident that the 2018 vintage looks like being so productive and so good that it finally puts our wines right where they belong on the global map."

The combination of a near-perfect weather sequence and increasing land under vines means Britain’s wine growers are anticipating both large volumes and great quality in one of the earliest harvests in living memory.

The growing season has been hailed as offering "dream conditions" - in contrast with  last year when many vineyards were devastated by late April frosts, meaning yields were down.

Miss McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands and Conservative Agriculture spokesman in  the European Parliament, said: "The quality and reputation of English and Welsh wines has been growing gradually for years.

"Many regions offer a genuinely outstanding climate and terroir for the right vines and international wine experts are increasingly recognising the excellence we deliver."

Miss McIntyre is herself a partner in a small family vineyard in Herefordshire and has been named an official wine champion by the English and Welsh wine industry.

She said: "This year we expect the perfect combination of a tip-top product with potentially thousands more bottles produced - and that means more retailers, more restaurant, more wine-lovers all over the world potentially trying our best wines.

"I think we may well end up looking back on 2018 as our global breakthrough vintage."



New statistics on hate crime should be a stark warning to anyone who denied it was a problem, campaigning MEP Anthea McIntyre said today.

The co- founder of the anti hate-crime organisation West Midlands Together spoke out after figures showed a huge surge in offences linked to people's religious beliefs.

She said: "Every one of these incidents is a denial of someone's dignity, security and peace of mind. Every one is a stain on our country's reputation for tolerance,  and we must do all we can to turn this tide."

Miss McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands launched the cross-party group with her Labour colleague Neena Gill following a sharp rise in hate crime following the EU referendum.

Today Police in England and Wales announced an increase of 40% in religious hate crime compared with last year's figures. Some 52% of this was aimed at Muslims.

The overall number of incidents rose to a record high of 94,098, from April 2017 to March this year - a rise of 17%. More than three quarters of those were classified as "race hate".

Crimes targeted at people because of their sexual orientation made up 12% of the total, with religious hatred at 9%, disability hate 8% and transgender hate crimes 2%.

Miss Mcintyre welcomed the announcement of a raft of Government measures to tackle hate crime including a Law Commission review, a public campaign to tackle intolerance, funding for educational programmes and extra security at a further 45 places of worship.

Mis McIntyre said:  "West Midlands together was formed to show that this is overwhelmingly a respectful and tolerant society and that such poisonous behaviour is not acceptable or the norm.

"It may be that we are seeing hate crime treated more seriously and better-recorded. That would be a good thing, but the these figures are also a stark warning that the problem is real and is far from going away yet."

Measures championed by Conservative MEPs to stamp out unfair trading practices in the food supply chain have been backed by the European Parliament's Agriculture committee. 

The proposals aim to protect farmers and suppliers from practices including the cancellation of contracts for fresh produce at short notice, late payments by retailers and by demanding more clarity in agreements.

It draws on the experience of the UK's Groceries Code Adjudicator, a position created in 2013 to re-evaluate the relationship between supermarkets and their suppliers.

Conservative Agriculture spokesman Anthea McIntyre MEP welcomed the vote and said: "If it weren't for our farmers' hard work growing food, supermarket shelves and tills would be empty, yet these stores take the lion's share of the profit.

"Farmers deserve a fair price and fair treatment and today's vote is a step towards ending these unfair practices.

"I am pleased MEPs have backed proposals which are modelled on the UK's adjudicator which has made good progress in this area. It has helped bring companies into line and each year the number of issues raised by farmers has reduced."

ENDS 

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Figures from some of the West Midlands' leading businesses gathered at a Conservative Conference fringe event today to discuss job creation and the challenges posed by Brexit.

The business breakfast at the Park Regis Hotel, Birmingham, was organised and hosted by Anthea McIntyre and Daniel Dalton, Conservative MEPs for the West Midlands. Miss McIntyre is also the party's employment spokesman in Brussels.

Speaking in the hotel's 16th-floor "sky loft" which has 360-degree views of the city, West Midlands Mayor And Street said: "If you want to know what business can do - look out there.

"Business is a force for good and business in the West Midlands has put its money where its mouth is by investing in bricks and mortar and creating jobs.

"Since I last spoke at this conference more jobs have been created here than anywhere else."

Sutton Coldfield MP Andrew Mitchell said: "It needs to be understood that the Tory Party not only understands business but is on business's side."

Speakers included Andrew Churchill of Nuneaton aerospace company JJ Churchill, Matt Lewis of criminal intelligence firm Arquebus Solutions, Michael Worley of West Bromwich engineers William King, and James Stephens from Aston Martin's headquarters at Gaydon in Warwickshire.

Miss McIntyre said: "The quality and range of views we had from these exceptional business people about their ambitions and concerns was remarkable. 

"It has all been noted in detail and I will make sure it is shared with policy-makers and our Brexit negotiators.

end

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