Backing our Farmers
Last Wednesday was Back British Farming Day. It seems strange to try and mark it as only one day, when we should all be backing our farmers and fishermen 365 days of the year. However, it did allow us, politicos, to outline the opportunities and challenges faced by the agricultural sector, and offer suggestions for what more can be achieved.
South Devon has some of the best livestock lands in the country. Our produce is recognised for its quality both in the UK and further afield. Our local farm shops reassert this point, many having had the strongest eighteen months on record. As residents, we are now all the more aware of the fine products we have in our midst. With this knowledge and understanding, we must explore ways in which we can enhance our local market to benefit local schools, hospitals and care homes. Healthier local food will support consumers and producers alike, as well as benefiting the local economy.
Farming, as Jeremy Clarkson has so aptly demonstrated in his documentary series, is a tough line of work. It will never be easy or without its problems. But we can help the farming community by supporting it at a local level and through our public organisations.
Levelling Up Fund
Torbay’s Levelling Up Fund submission was sent at the start of the summer. Since then, it has been an excruciating wait to learn whether we will receive a share of the £4.8bn Levelling Up fund. This bid looks to support Brixham Fish Market as well as support local high-tech businesses. It will help to create hundreds of new jobs, develop port infrastructure and ensure that Brixham remains not only the number one fishing port in England but also a high-tech hub of entrepreneurialism and innovation.
Without counting chickens before they have hatched, it is particularly welcome to see Brixham receiving the attention that it deserves. It is all too often seen as the golden goose, but one that receives little financial support. If the town of Brixham is successful then the application will progress in consultation with residents and organisations, to ensure that the plans are proportionate and acceptable to all.
Much has been made in the national press about the UK’s exit from the EU and the impact on the fishing industry. However, the Brixham Fish Market tells a different story. With strong local demand and a buoyant international market, weekly turnover is reaching an estimated £800,000 per week. This record-beating sum puts Brixham Fish Market on course to beat previous year’s records and retain its position as England’s most valuable fishing port.
Next month I will be going out to sea for two days to learn more about the fishing industry. After having spent two years talking about the work of the Brixham, Dartmouth, Salcombe fishermen, I thought it was about time that I went to see first-hand the hard work that goes into catching our world-class fish.
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