HOLSWORTHY Cattle Market had a VIP in attendance recently, with a visit from the Right Honourable Steve Barclay MP, the Secretary of State at the Department for the Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

The secretary of state was on a fact-finding mission at the market, meeting local farmers and agricultural professionals in a packed meeting held in the market’s canteen.

He was accompanied by the Member of Parliament for Torridge and West Devon, Sir Geoffrey Cox KC, as well as the new national president of the National Farmers Union and DEFRA officials.

A spokesperson for Sir Geoffrey said: “Torridge and West Devon’s MP, Sir Geoffrey Cox KC, took the DEFRA Secretary of State, the Rt Hon Steve Barclay MP, to Holsworthy Cattle Market recently to meet local farmers and agricultural professionals and to discuss topical issues important to our local farming communities.

“The event, in the market canteen, which was chaired by the MP, was also attended by the new national president of the NFU, Tom Bradshaw and peputy president, David Exwood and DEFRA officials.

“There have been several important recent developments in the industry such as the new Fair Dealing Regulations in the dairy sector, with an independent dairy adjudicator to improve fairness in the dairy supply chain, big improvements in the Sustainable Farming Initiative, the Government’s replacement scheme for the CAP, and a consultation on Bovine TB policy, which were bound to attract a lot of interest and attendance was strong.

“During a question-and-answer session of over an hour, a packed audience heard the Secretary of State’s thinking on subjects such as the Government’s action to place a strong emphasis on Food Security, Bovine TB Policy, relationships with Natural England, new developments in the Sustainable Farming Initiative, and the new Fair Dealing Regulations to improve supply chain fairness in the milk industry. Farmers were later able later to chat with him informally.

Sir Geoffrey added: “The Secretary of State listened intently to the experiences of local farming interests today and his strong commitment to back our farming families to produce high quality food was there for all to see. The Government has listened and acted on Bovine TB, on greater fairness in the dairy sector, on major improvements to the SFI, on a better deal on public procurement and labelling for British farming, and on Natural England’s approach, whose CEO attended my Dartmoor Forum with the Secretary of State in Tavistock earlier in the day.

“In Steve Barclay, people saw a down-to-earth Minister who wants to get things done and is a friend to livestock farming and a living, working countryside. I was very grateful for him and to Tom and David for coming to Holsworthy.”