Penrith and The Border MP Rory Stewart last week attended a meeting of farmers from Appleby and Upper Eden, organised by the National Farmers Union (NFU) and held at Coupland Beck Farm. The primary focus was on the current bovine TB (bTB) scare in the Eden Valley, but the group also discussed other pressing issues including Brexit, Commons Land law, and the importance of herd health.

Acknowledging the potentially catastrophic effects of the spread of bTB, there was a strong consensus that more must be done to contain the disease, in order to protect the Cumbrian agricultural economy. Similarly, it was agreed there must be a move towards more efficient testing of cattle, along with stronger sanctions on the movement of cattle, to prevent bTB becoming endemic in the area.

Farmers – representing a mix of agriculture, and from farms in and around Appleby, Kirkby Stephen and up the East Fellside – voiced numerous other concerns centred on the ongoing Brexit negotiations, as the agriculture sector is likely to be impacted in a number of ways; particularly by the seasonal migration of workers and the effect of any new trade relationships. Rory reassured the group that he is committed to getting the best possible Brexit deal for farmers, especially given that agriculture makes up such a large part of the Cumbrian economy.

After the meeting Rory Stewart said: “Agriculture is fundamental to both our local community and our economy, and is part of our iconic Cumbrian heritage. We must look to ensure its success at all costs, and dealing with the very real threat of bovine TB is integral to achieving this. I am confident that through continued dialogue between Defra, APHA, the NFU and local farmers, and strong, timely action, we can effectively mitigate the effects of this disease.”

Rory is in touch with both Minister George Eustice, and the APHA, about farmers in his constituency affected by bovine TB. If you have any concerns about bovine TB on your farm, please contact Rory on 01768 484114 or by email [email protected]

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