AS March gets ever closer, and the Government prepares to introduce the new British agricultural policy, a leading farmer had spoken out against what he feels is the side-lining of food production.

Sheep farmer Kevin Ridley of Shitlington Hall, near Wark, said he felt that the voices of British farmers had been ignored by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which he said was too quick to back down to the demands of environmental organisations.

“Many of us feel as though we have been excluded in any of the discussions the Government had when creating the new policies,” said Kevin. “I’m behind creating a more sustainable farming future, but there needs to be a balance struck between sustainability and food production – which there currently isn’t.”

Kevin also said that the new policies were seeing more farmers gearing to reduce their level of livestock, or move their sheep off the hills as part of the Government’s environmental schemes, which he believed had in fact caused disruption to wildlife, rather than helping protect it.

“Farmers would once see the most amazing ground nesting birds on their land,” he said. “But since the reduction in livestock grazing on hills, there has been a huge reduction in the number of wild birds spotted, because it is no longer the right habitat for them.Without the sheep, there’s no manure produced, and therefore there is a lack of insects which attract the birds. In my opinion, we are not currently experiencing unnatural climate change, or a global warming crisis, but the future nonetheless will be a tricky time for family farmers.”