Sir Jim criticised for taking on First Milk role

Jim Paice. Picture Steve Williams

Jim Paice. Picture Steve Williams - Credit: Archant

FORMER Farming Minister Sir Jim Paice has been announced as the next chairman of the dairy farming co-operative First Milk.

Huw Jones

Huw Jones - Credit: Archant

Sir Jim will become chairman of First Milk in October

Sir Jim will become chairman of First Milk in October - Credit: Archant

But the South East Cambridgeshire MP has already drawn criticism for announcing the move, with Labour parliamentary candidate Huw Jones questioning whether Sir Jim has the interests of his constituents at heart.

Mr Jones, who will be vying for the SE Cambs seat in 2015, said: “Which is Jim Paice putting first? Milk or his constituents? Although he is not seeking re-election in South East Cambs in 2015, it seems he plans to take on an additional job at First Milk this October.”

Sir Jim, who was sacked as Farming Minister by Prime Minister David Cameron back in 2012, will take up the position on October 31 when current chairman Bill Mustoe steps down.

He will continue as the MP for South East Cambs alongside his new role until 2015, when he is set to stand down.

Mr Jones added: “If elected I pledge to be a full time MP as I believe the people of South East Cambs should expect their MP to be representing them and their country not anyone else.”

Sir Jim said he felt “privileged to be invited to lead the largest dairy business owned by British farmers”.

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He said: “Having worked for a farmer owned business before I became an MP, and from being Minister, I have always believed that farmers should work together to influence their own destiny.

“The dairy sector has gone through difficult times recently but I have long believed there is a good future for British dairy farmers and I look forward to helping to achieve it”.

During his stint as Farming Minister between 2010 and 2012 Sir Jim attempted to address what he described as the ‘dysfunctional’ milk supply chain.

One of his final acts in the post was to broker agreement on the dairy contract Code of Practice, which he described as among his finest achievements.

Outgoing chairman Bill Mustoe said: “(Mr Paice) has been a champion for farmers at Westminster for over 25 years and we now look forward to him being a champion for First Milk farmers.”