Labour Party Conference: Agriculture - Protesting farmers called in for crisis talks

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The Independent Online
FARMERS met Nick Brown, the Minister of Agriculture, for talks in Bournemouth yesterday.

There were shouts of relief from the 2,000 protesters on the seafront when leaders of the National Farmers' Union said talks would take place on the crisis in the industry. Before meeting Ben Gill, president of the union, Mr Brown was asked if he could offer any new money to the farmers in addition to what was promised earlier this month, but said: "There is no new announcement this week.

"We are going to have discussions and then make a statement. But you can't assume every time that I meet farmers there will be new money." Last week, Mr Brown pledged pounds 150m of extra aid for farmers.

The industry's troubles have been deepening for three years, since the disaster over bovine spongiform encephalopathy. Now the high value of sterling and collapse of farm-gate prices is driving many out of business.

The NFU is calling for the removal of red tape from farming and an end to charges or taxes it says have been heaped upon the industry.