Liz Truss accused of snubbing farmers for refusing to attend rural raids | Liz Truss

Liz Truss has been accused of snubbing farmers after refusing to attend rural roundups organized by the National Farmers Union.

His leadership rival, Rishi Sunak, is due to address members of the National Farmers Union on Friday, but despite pleas from the NFU president, Truss refused to attend.

The Foreign Secretary was likely to have been questioned on Wednesday over accusations by Environment Secretary George Eustice that she refused to write animal welfare standards into trade agreements.

NFU President Minette Batters said it was a ‘shame’ that Truss didn’t want to attend the hustings, adding: ‘It doesn’t bode well – George Eustice made his comments – you would think that ‘she would like to put her marker down.’

UK farmers have felt undermined by post-Brexit trade deals with other countries, which have threatened to keep farming overseas at lower standards than domestic farmers are obliged to meet.

New Zealand farmers were delighted with the trade agreement signed by Truss, with a recent report on New Zealand news describing UK farmers as ‘sacrificial lambs’, due to the duty-free imports agreed to by the deal. He explained how the UK’s less intensive farming methods could mean they would soon be overtaken by New Zealand.

Truss’ team said they ‘can’t turn up at everything’ and were working to speak to tens of thousands of Tory members across the UK.

However, Batters said the recent drought and cost of living crisis meant it was more important than ever for Truss to speak to farmers. She hoped that even if Truss missed the organized hustings this Friday, she would meet with farmers in the coming weeks to discuss rural policy.

She said: “I offered to meet her anywhere. I offered to do it virtually, we are not tied to any place or anything. But that doesn’t seem likely. It’s disappointing, because it’s not just about agriculture – food is such a critical topic, water is so essential for everyone, especially right now.

Sunak is expected to present his farm plan to NFU members, and his team said protecting UK farmers in trade deals would be at the forefront of every one of his policies. They said he would ‘support farmers in any future trade deals with the UK, taking the time to get trade deals right, rather than rushing them to meet artificial deadlines that he has set himself -even imposed”, which could be interpreted as a sharp blow to his opponent.

He also promised to maintain and boost domestic food production through a UK food security target and to introduce a ‘buy local’ target for the public sector, prioritizing UK produce over imports.

He has, however, come under fire from environmental campaigners for promising to “protect” land from solar panels and reseeding.

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