New rules against unfair trading will finally address long-standing abuse of farmers and growers by all-powerful supermarkets and retail chains, a leading MEP told colleagues.
Anthea McIntyre, Conservative Agriculture Spokesman in the the European Parliament, was addressing a debate in Strasbourg before a vote today (Tuesday) which granted final approval to the package.
Miss McIntyre helped draft the new rules as negotiator for the European Conservatives and Reformists Group in the parliament . She urged the EU's lawmakers to draw on the United Kingdom's model for addressing unfair practices.
The West Midlands MEP told the parliament: "For far too long farmers and growers have been in the most precarious position in the food supply chain and for too long large retailers across the EU have been able to abuse their powerful position.
"This Directive uses, as one of its bases, the UK’s Grocery Supply Code of Practice. This is a legally binding code.
"Voluntary codes did not change buyers’ behaviour. That is why legislation is needed.
"At Parliament’s insistence the Directive now includes all agricultural produce, not just food. This means that cut flowers – just as perishable as fruit and veg - are covered.
"We also extended the threshold so that suppliers with a turnover of up to €350 million will be protected. This means all EU farmers are covered and all Producer Organisations in the UK are covered too.
"I am also glad that the Directive covers suppliers who are outside the EU. So, not only will farmers in Kenya and Peru be protected but, in a post-Brexit world, UK farmers and growers will continue to be protected when selling into the EU.
"Most crucial is that confidentiality will be guaranteed. Too often small farmers and growers have been discouraged from complaining for fear of retaliation.
"This Directive is good news for farmers and consumers across the EU and beyond and I am delighted to support it."
A striking exhibition showcasing the best of Herefordshire was opened in Brussels last night (Tues) in the heart of the European Parliament.
The exhibition, which runs all week, was organised by West Midlands MEP Anthea McIntyre, to highlight Herefordshire's strengths in produce, business, culture and tourism.
The display, which included cutting edge video as well as such diverse exhibits as Herefordshire hops, the hide of a Herefordshire steer and a sample of the county's rich red soil, was designed by a team of students from Hereford College of Art.
They travelled to Brussels to install the exhibition in one of the parliament building's busiest areas.
Miss McIntyre said: "Herefordshire is the perfect place to invest, do business, to holiday or to source the finest goods and foodstuffs.
"We are taking the opportunity, while it is still there, to create a shop window for all that Herefordshire has to offer - right here in the heart of the EU.
"We will continue to trade with the whole world - and the EU will continue to be a major market.
"Our art college students have produced a stunning exhibition and we have a prime spot. We will be seen by commissioners, officials, MEPs and diplomats - plus hundreds of other Europeans visiting the parliament.
"They are coming to visit us - and they are taking our food, crafts and products to their hearts."
Abigail Appleton, principal of Hereford College of Art, said: "I'm thrilled that students and staff have thrown themselves into this project and that Anthea McIntyre and the Herefordshire business community are supporting their bold creative approach. The arts and business are deeply intertwined, and we share a common ambition to promote our remarkable region to the world."
Other dignitaries who spoke at the opening included Rainer Wieland MEP, Vice-President of the European Parliament; Nat Hone, High Sheriff of Herefordshire;
and Brian Wilcox, Chairman of Herefordshire Council.
David Harlow, the council's cabinet member for economy and communications, spoke about the range of business and investment opportunities in the county.
Deputy Lieutenant Jo Hilditch, of Herefordshire cassis company White Heron Drinks, outlined the county's star products and produce, while Deputy Lieutenant James Hervey-Bathurst, of Eastnor Castle and Estate, highlighted its draw as a tourist destination.
Agriculture spokesman Anthea McIntyre today led Conservative MEPs in backing stronger measures to enforce legislation protecting live animals being transported across the European Union.
The report, approved by the European Parliament in Strasbourg, calls for implementation of existing rules to be stepped up with more on the spot inspections and the confiscation of transportation lorries for repeat offenders.
It also recommends a reduction in journey times where possible and advocates alternatives to live animal transport, such as expanding the trade in frozen meat and carcasses.
Miss McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, stressed that the UK already strictly enforced welfare standards and inspected millions of animals before travel. But some other member states carried out no inspections at all.
She said: "UK farmers employ the highest standards and are invested in the welfare of their animals, including during transport. Sadly these standards are not always replicated across the EU and this report suggests some sensible safeguards, including the greater use of technology to track animal journeys and engagement with third countries about their welfare standards.
"Animal welfare is a top priority. Where unacceptable practices exist, they must be detected and stamped out."
Conservative activists from across the West Midlands gathered at the weekend for a high-powered conference to discuss security and business post-Brexit.
The "Beyond Brexit" conference at the Forest of Arden Marriott Hotel, Meriden, was organised by West Midlands Conservative MEPs Anthea Mcintyre and Daniel Dalton, together with West Midlands Regional Chairman Jim Cooper.
It was addressed by high-profile politicians including Home Secretary and Bromsgrove MP Sajid Javid, Defence Secretary and South Staffordshire MP Gavin Williamson, Conservative Party Chairman Brandon Lewis and West Midlands Mayor Andy Street.
A keynote forum on "Creating the Best Environment for Business in Global Britain" heard from top business figures including Laura Cohen, chief executive of the Stoke-based British Ceramics Confederation, Coventry Building Society chairman Gary Hoffman, and Doug Norton, chairman of Birmingham's Indestructible Paint Ltd, which supplies specialist coatings to a range of industries including the aerospace sector.
Miss McIntyre said: "We organised the conference to let leading figures in our region lift their eyes beyond the immediate focus on the Brexit deal to consider the challenges and opportunities we will face once the UK leaves.
"Whether you wanted Brexit or not, the Government is quite rightly committed to delivering on the outcome of the referendum - so there is much to consider, especially for business.
"I was delighted that we were able to line up so many top figures from the Cabinet together with some of the key players in our regional business, commerce and politics."
Young farmers on an industry development scheme got the chance to meet leading MEPs and learn about the working of the European Parliament during a trip to Brussels.
The group of 17 is from the National Farmers' Union's Cereals Development Programme, comprising cereal and arable farmers in their 20s and early 30s who are seen as future leaders in the sector. They had lunch with prominent British members of the Parliament's Agriculture Committee, visited the hemicycle debating chamber and heard in detail how EU law is shaped by the key institutions the Parliament, EU Commission and Council of Ministers.
They were hosted by Anthea McIntyre, the West Midlands MEP and Conservative agriculture spokesman in Brussels, and also met MEPs James Nicholson (Northern Ireland), John Procter (Yorkshire and the Humber) and Julie Girling (South West).
Miss McIntyre took them through the different ways MEPs can influence new legislation and outlined some of her key projects - including her work to stave off a potential ban on the herbicide glyphosate. She also spoke of her campaign to promote enhanced use of technology in agriculture through methods such as robotics, precision spraying and gene editing.
Miss McIntyre said: "This important NFU programme is really about preparing young, bright, inquiring farmers to lead their industry into the future. It will help them to better understand the political process and how best to engage with policy-makers - and I was hugely impressed by their keen interest and their incisive questions.
"It was also useful for them to see how decisions in here in Brussels will continue to have an impact on UK farmers after Brexit."
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