Former Defra food and farming minister Jim Paice has been named National Farmers' Union farming champion of the year at the Farmers Weekly awards.
The MP for South East Cambridgeshire picked up the prestigious accolade last night during a ceremony at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel. The award is given to an individual who has shown outstanding commitment to the agricultural industry in the past 12 months.
Mr Paice was appointed minister of state at Defra when the coalition government came to power in May 2010 up until last month’s Cabinet reshuffle. One of his great achievements was the part he played in convening talks between industry leaders, dairy processors and farmers’ representatives about producing a voluntary code of practice on milk contracts.
NFU President Peter Kendall said: “I am delighted for Jim to receive this award. He has taken farming to the heart of government and helped achieve many key policies and agreements, which has put farmers in a better place in the future.
“He threatened to ‘bang heads together’ across the entire dairy chain in the search for a long-term solution to milk pricing; he stuck his neck out on the badger cull and even attempted to unpick the chaos of the rural payments agency.
“As an MP with practical farming experience, this means he’s never been easily fooled. During his time as minister of agriculture he was a ‘critical friend’ of the industry as demonstrated at the London dairy summit in July. He has definitely been farming's biggest ally in Parliament.”
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