Outgoing NFU Deputy President joins Lib Dems
Today the outgoing Deputy President of the National Farmers Union (NFU) has announced he has joined the Liberal Democrats.
Stuart Roberts recently finished his high profile role at the NFU to become politically active. He will join Lib Dem Leader Ed Davey today visiting an agriculture college in Hampshire. Well-known vet and Liberal Democrat candidate for Winchester Danny Chambers will also join them.
Stuart, who owns and manages a farm in Hertfordshire, has held numerous senior positions in the NFU and the food and farming industry.
He was previously a Conservative Councillor in Hertfordshire but has joined a growing number of farmers who are no longer supporting the Conservative party.
Today's announcement follows last year's political earthquake in North Shropshire where local farming communities voted Liberal Democrat for the first time. Ed Davey is visiting farms in Southern "Blue Wall" constituencies as rural areas switch from Conservative to Liberal Democrats.
It comes as new analysis by the Liberal Democrats reveals farming income in the South of England has fallen by £61 million in just one year. In Hampshire alone farming income has dropped by £22 million . The Government's new overseas trade deals have been partly blamed for the hit to the region's farming industry and farmers are now coping with spiralling costs.
Stuart Roberts commented on his decision to join the Liberal Democrats:
"It is time politicians spoke up for rural communities who urgently need help and support.
"The Liberal Democrats have proved they want to listen and engage with farmers who have been taken for granted by the Conservative party. What I have heard from Ed Davey and rural Lib Dem MPs such as Tim Farron is a party determined to campaign for policies which support the farming industry. I will be delighted to help the party's newly formed Food and Farming Working Group in developing the right policies for farmers and consumers across the country.
"British farmers and food producers are amongst the best in the world and they are ready to deliver high quality, sustainable food produced in harmony with the environment and animal welfare. Yet time and time again this Conservative Government has badly let down farmers and rural communities.
"This is a pivotal moment for farmers with food security never a more important issue than today."
Ahead of the visit Ed Davey, Liberal Democrat Leader said:
"Stuart is a stalwart of the farming community and I am enormously proud he has joined the Liberal Democrats. He is a champion for British farming and animal welfare. The Government should start listening to farmers like him.
"The Tories simply don't understand farmers - they have taken them for granted for too long. The Government's trade deals aren't worth the paper they are written on and a betrayal of rural communities.
"In recent months I have visited farms and rural communities across the country and heard real anger at this Government. What I heard from farmers in North Shropshire is what I hear in places such as Hertfordshire and Hampshire in the South."
Source: Total income from farming for the regions of England - 1st March