Food security, connectivity and housing were discussed when Milton Keynes North MP Ben Everitt visited a family-run farm in his constituency.
The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) invited Mr Everitt to Hill Farm near Newport Pagnell, home to the Ruck-Keene family, for an update on issues affecting rural life and business.
Others present included fellow CLA member Peter Geary; and Tim Bamford, Regional Director of CLA South East, which represents farmers, landowners and rural businesses across Buckinghamshire and beyond. The group enjoyed a short tour, seeing first-hand the expansion of a grain store and state-of-the-art dryer, and also took in views of Milton Keynes across the arable farm.
Robert Ruck-Keene is the Chairman of the CLA’s Buckinghamshire Branch, and has lived and worked in the county all his life. He has been actively involved in the management of the family estate since the mid 1980s, and is also passionate about assisting Thames Valley Police in combating crime in rural areas, sitting on the Thames Valley Rural Crime Partnership since 2013.
Topics covered included connectivity, food security, housing and energy. They also discussed the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Rural Business and the Rural Powerhouse's recent report ‘Levelling up the rural economy: an inquiry into rural productivity’. It is one of the most comprehensive inquiries into the rural economy by a parliamentary group in many years, and called for the Government to show some ambition for the countryside, highlighting areas such as housing, planning and skills.
Mr Everitt, whose father worked on a farm, said: “I was really pleased to meet the CLA and Robert and James from Hill Farm to talk about issues including food security, the cost of farming, Milton Keynes Council’s plans for the MK East expansion and the future of agriculture in the UK.”
Mr Bamford said: “It was a pleasure to meet Ben for the farm tour and discussion of a range of rural issues, and we look forward to building a close relationship as farming is such an important sector in the Milton Keynes North constituency.
“This is a crucial time for our sector. The recently published APPG report highlights the potential of the rural economy, but the urban-rural divide remains and the Government must commit to creating opportunity and prosperity for everyone.”
Robert Ruck-Keene, who hosted the visit, said: “It was an interesting meeting, and it’s important for our MP to take rural issues seriously and continue engaging with rural communities.”