Farming is the heart of our communities across Rutland and Melton. With an incredibly diverse range of farms, we truly feed the nation.
Farming has become a harder way of life over the past few years.
I want to make Government work better for our farmers – so I asked our farmers for their views on a wide variety of topics – from bovine TB to food labelling; rural crime to the future of farming.
I received responses from farms large and small, from communities across Rutland and Melton, and I wanted to share some of the results with you here.
The Biggest Issues Facing Farmers
Farmers are clear that the single biggest issue is rural crime, Food standards, supporting meat consumption and the representation of agriculture in the media also very important to farmers.
That’s why I’ve been working with to make sure our rural police are properly equipped. That means proper boots, proper jackets and four wheel drive vehicles for our country roads, as well as boosting the size of our Rural Crime Team.
I’ve worked with the Government to crack down on illegal hare coursing and have been working with the community to identify fly tipping websites so we can identify the sites. I’m also working on a new livestock worrying law.
I will continue to work with councils, our police, and the Government to make sure that rural crime is recognised as crime – and that rural criminals are punished adequately.
The future of farming
Farmers are not confident in the future of farming – but it’s notable that many of the problems are ones that can be fixed through policy.
Farmers know that farming is a tough life, but we’re going through a transition period where lots of change causes uncertainty no one wants.
Bringing young people into farming is a big problem for the long-term future of farming, and that feeds into the representation of farming in the media. It’s important to counter the anti-farming lobby – like the vegan militias who have attacked dairy farms in our community.
I will continue to work with farmers to make sure their views are represented at the highest level of Government – and that easy to avoid problems, such as onerous paperwork, can be avoided to make farming a calling that works for farmers – and that this country can continue to grow the food that we need.
Brexit brings new markets and opportunities for farmers – and farmers across Rutland and Melton are keen to take part in new opportunities to find new markets across the world. 62% of farmers do not currently export, but 80% would export given the help and opportunity to do so. I’m working with the Department for International Trade to set up opportunities to get help.
Farmers are keen to take advantage of new opportunities presented by Brexit, with Australia, the USA, Canada and New Zealand being the most destinations that most farmers would like to export to. Europe is currently the biggest export market.
The biggest obstacle to farmers exporting is paperwork, with 30% of all respondents citing this as the main hurdle they face.
I will continue to work with the Department for International Trade to make sure that help and support is available to our farmers who are seeking to take opportunities of new markets and start exporting.