CUMBRIA’S best-known shepherdess, Hannah Jackson has joined forces with a local MP in the fight to back UK farmers.

Dr Neil Hudson, MP for Penrith and The Border visited Hannah, who is known in farming circles and on social media as the Red Shepherdess because of her trademark red locks, at her Croglin farm to discuss the ongoing concerns regarding the Agricultural Bill and the need to back British farmers.

The first generation young farmer had thanked Dr Hudson via social media for backing British farming, which led to the MP visiting her in person to explain why he took a stand for voting against the Government in the Agriculture Bill.

Dr Hudson said “As an MP and a veterinary surgeon, I will make no apology for standing up for animal welfare and our farmers by insisting on high animal welfare standards which would benefit farmers and animals not only in the UK but across the globe."

He added: "I will keep going on this to uphold our high animal welfare and farming standards of which we can be so proud. The UK can be a beacon to the rest of the world on this.”

In a socially distanced walk around her farmstead, home to a flock of sheep, Highland cattle, goats and pigs and her sheepdogs, the pair had a wide-ranging discussion on current farming issues including agricultural colleges such as Newton Rigg Campus, due to be closed next year, should be available to support the next generation of young famers and the vital need to address mental health in rural communities.

Hannah said: “It was a pleasure to welcome Neil to the farm. As a farmer I appreciate the stance that he has taken to protect the welfare and foods standards that our country is renowned for. "

She added: "Neil has truly represented the views of the people that he was elected to serve and for that he has my utmost respect and thanks. We must now continue to fight to ensure that other MPs show the same courage and vote to preserve our standards.

"This is not just about a trade deal this is a much bigger issue that involves both the welfare of animals and the long term health of our nation.”

After the meeting Dr Hudson commented "It was a real pleasure to meet Hannah. Her passion and enthusiasm for farming and animal welfare is fantastic and I look forward to working with her to address the needs of our rural community."

Meanwhile, earlier this month in a socially-distanced meeting, Dr Neil Hudson met with local farmers and NFU staff to discuss current crucial issues facing agriculture – the phasing out of the Basic Payments Scheme and the new Environmental Land Management Schemes (ELMs), part of the Agriculture Bill which are currently being piloted.

The biggest concern raised by the group was the importance of upholding the country’s high animal welfare and farming standards in future trade deals.

Dr Hudson had pledged to support the amendments in Parliament: “As an MP and a veterinary surgeon, I will continue to stand up for animal welfare and for the farmers in Penrith and The Border, across Cumbria and the wider UK.

"We have the best farmers and produce great food using high standards. We should be very proud of that. I will continue to work with Government, but I am prepared to again vote against them on this, as I have already done in both the Agriculture and Trade Bills, to ensure our high standards in animal health and welfare and food production are upheld.”

Mike Sanderson, Penrith NFU advisor said: “We thanked Dr Hudson for his support of the NFU’s stance over inferior food imports in the Agriculture Bill and his reassurance he would back our position again if he had to when it came back to the House.”