The National Sheep Association (NSA) has called on Michael Gove, the new environment secretary, for reassurance to give sheep farmers confidence of his enthusiasm for the sector.
As the industry enters into Brexit negotiations, NSA believes it is vital for Mr Gove to demonstrate an understanding of the issues facing agriculture and that he is fully conversant with contributions the UK sheep industry makes to the economy.
Phil Stocker, NSA’s chief executive, says: “There may well be more to Michael Gove’s empathy with farming than meets the eye, but NSA immediately received an alarming number of concerned contact from members on the day following his appointment. We share this concern and are asking Mr Gove to urgently give the sheep industry some confidence that he understands the value of our sector – I’d like to see an immediate commitment to achieve tariff free trade routes into the EU post Brexit.
“There are two distinctly differing views within senior members of Government, those who advocate raising production standards and quality and those who see Brexit as a chance to import increasingly cheaper food into the UK. Just over a year ago Michael Gove showed he was clearly in the cheap import camp while being interviewed on BBC Radio 4. Any Secretary of State with a responsibility for Britain’s farming and food agenda cannot move forward with that vision for the future, we need some clear statements of intent urgently”.