This column first appeared in the Sussex Express on Friday July 24th, 2015.
Farms are the lifeblood of rural economies, and our wider national economy is dependent on them for food security. Representing a rural constituency allows me to get my hands dirty, as I did at the Appleton family’s Primrose Farm with its dairy herd, and work on some of the most pressing issues affecting those farms.
Over the last few weeks I have been working to shape some of the campaigns I will be running to improve the lot of our farmers. I am continuing my dialogue with the National Farmers’ Union to discuss the needs and concerns of farmers in Wealden. As in any industry, small issues very quickly add up to become big issues, and big issues can escalate to threaten a farm’s viability and success, in turn putting jobs, supply chains and rural life at risk.
The conversations I have with individual farmers, as well as the NFU, have highlighted concerns about the splitting of sheep carcasses, the electronic tagging of lambs and calves, and the price of milk. These are not issues which make the news and some of them are extremely complex, but for farmers in Wealden they make a massive difference to their work and livelihood, and can cause money to leak out of the rural economy.
It’s my job, as Wealden’s representative in Parliament, to listen to sector-specific concerns such as these and amplify the voices of those whose concerns they are, in the hope that those with the ability to change things are listening. I’ll be doing that on farming as on other issues, which means you may be hearing rather more about our ovine and bovine friends from me in the near future…
P.S. If you’re out buying supplies for a summer outing, don’t forget to #BuyLocal.