THE LEADER of the Liberal Democrats was in North Shropshire to visit MP Helen Morgan and to hear from the agricultural industry about its concerns.

Sir Ed Davey joined Ms Morgan in Wem on Saturday, May 14 to officially open her constituency office before visiting two farms, Bentley Farm, Nonely and Pimhill Farm, Harmer Hill.

Many issues were discussed including the environment, employment and animal welfare.

Sir Ed said he learnt a lot from the visits and called on the Government to listen to farmers.

The Liberal Democrat leader added: "They should listen to them, it feels the Government is taking farmers for granted, not listening and not responding in any serious way.

"The failure over the reduction in taking out basic payment systems before the environment management systems to come in.

"Trade deals I am afraid are going to be a disaster.

"They are going to put small farmers out of business and not great for the consumer as we see the reduction in animal welfare standards."

Like many people and industries, farming has been affected severely by rising fuel costs.

Sir Ed said the Liberal Democrats called for a cut in VAT.

He explained: "During the cost-of-living debate we have called for a cut in VAT which would help fuel costs.

"That is the best measure that could be taken."

Ms Morgan said the increase in the cost of fertiliser has affected farmers and some have said they will close.

She added: "We have listened to a lot of concerns the farmers have.

"If I was encouraged to retire with a lump sum payment, the idea is that new younger people come into farming but there is a risk, smaller family farms get bought up and absorbed into bigger ones.

"The basic farm payment is being phased out, the cost of fertiliser has gone up fourfold and the cost of fuel is going up.

"Some of these farmers are going to say in the autumn they just cannot afford to plant and that is really concerning.

"We have had emails from farmers who have said they are going to shut up shop.

"It is about keeping up this pressure on Government to recognise we have got a food security issue and a problem with farmers going out of business and to help with the cost of fertiliser.

"I'd like to have seen them keep the basic farm payment in place before the new scheme was ready to go."