South Suffolk farmers stress importance of sector at private meeting with Gove
- Credit: Tamara Unwin
South Suffolk farmers stressed the importance of their industry to the county at a private meeting with environment minister Michael Gove earlier this month.
Around 40 farmers met with Mr Gove, who also attended the South Suffolk Conservative Association Annual Dinner at Stoke by Nayland Hotel, Golf & Spa on Friday, November 10, quizzed him directly over the challenges they faced at a meeting chaired by South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge.
National Farmers’ Union (NFU) Suffolk county adviser Rachel Carrington said: “This was a useful opportunity to highlight the importance of farming in Suffolk to the Secretary of State and how he can help ensure a productive and progressive agricultural industry after Brexit. In James Cartlidge’s constituency alone, 1,200 people are directly employed within agriculture and it contributes £36m to the rural economy.
“Members raised issues around Brexit, including seasonal labour shortages and the shape of a new Domestic Agricultural Policy, but also other concerns, such as fly-tipping. They also highlighted the impact that a proposed ban on neonicotinoids would have on growing sugar beet, a key crop in Suffolk.”
Nicola Currie, Easton and Otley College’s employer liaison officer for farming apprenticeships, called for government help in breaking down barriers in getting more farm apprentices signed up.
“In spite of the many initiatives there are in Suffolk to inform everyone about the career opportunities in the industry the biggest barrier is still the teachers themselves who as a general rule, have no understanding about the calibre of skills needed nor the earning potential so don’t even suggest the option to their pupils,” she said.
Stowupland farmer David Nunn, chair of the Suffolk Agricultural Association, called for help for farmers plagued by fly-tipping. He and neighbouring farmers have been battling against problems with white goods dumped and with even with illegal cannabis factory leavings dumped in their ditches and fields, he said. Mr Cartlidge said it was “an interesting discussion”. “I believe that it was a very useful session and was pleased that the Secretary of State had the opportunity to listen to the views of South Suffolk’s farming community,” he said.