Owen Paterson

 - Owen comes from a farming family and has always lived in the countryside.  His brother, a beef farmer was driven to emigrate to Australia by the aftermath of BSE.  North Shropshire, the constituency he represents and where he was born, is a rural area dominated by agriculture and related businesses.

 - In the last Parliament, he spent much of his time on Agricultural, Rural Affairs and Food issues.  He was a member of the Agriculture Select Committee from 1999-20001 and the Opposition Agricultural whip from 2000-2001.  He was also a member of the European Standing Committee A, which scrutinised a number of farming and food Directives and was on the Pre-Scrutiny Select Committee for the Bill setting up the Food Standards Agency.

 - During foot and mouth crisis, he was incisive critic of the Government bungling.  He was the first MP to insist that the Government dig out, read and learn from the Northumberland Report into the previous outbreak.  He has been a consistent supporter of small abattoirs, small food producers, the horse industry and local diversity and has campaigned against new regulations by all agencies of Government.

 - In 2000, he held an Adjournment Debate on the problem of ragwort.  A subsequent Private Member's Bill was largely based on his research.