t was great to be back out on the road for show season again after the two-year hiatus caused by the pandemic.
We kicked off with the Royal Bath and West Breakfast, welcoming Environment Minister, Rebecca Pow MP as our key speaker. Minister Pow assured attendees that the three new schemes Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI), Local Nature Recovery and Landscape Recovery will mark the beginning of a ‘new era’ for farming and the countryside.
The Royal Cornwall Show followed next and in line with our traditional programme, we started the show with our political breakfast. Attendees heard from the Secretary of State for Defra, George Eustice MP, who announced funding grants of up to £300,000 to help farmers boost their businesses. A £30 million pot from the Farming Investment Fund (FIF) would enable farmers to purchase equipment to process, diversify and add extra value to their produce, for example by turning milk into cheese or yoghurt, potatoes into crisps or to install vending machines or display cabinets for selling produce direct to customers. The funding will be offered in sums between £25,000 and £300,000. The Minister said “we want to support the choices that farmers make for their businesses. We are spending around £600 million on farm-based innovation over the next three years, and the money announced today will support farmers across England with their investment plans, to improve their profitability and productivity”.
CLA President Mark Tufnell urged members to embrace the Government’s transition period. He also talked of the recent launch of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Rural Business and the Rural Powerhouse report “Levelling up the Rural Economy” and how the CLA is urging government to see the ambition of the rural economy and how it can, and will change to be a profitable, thriving economy.
Nadine Dorries MP, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport addressed CLA members during an afternoon reception, during which she announced that thousands of people in rural parts of Cornwall were a big step closer to getting much faster broadband thanks to Project Gigabit – the biggest government-funded broadband rollout ever seen in the UK.
Broadband companies have been invited to bid for Project Gigabit contracts to bring fast connections to up to 26,000 homes and businesses in many of the hard-to-reach areas of Cornwall (19,000) and North Dorset (7,000). Work will commence on getting the infrastructure rolled out across areas from August this year.
Minister Dorries said “Up and down the UK, we’re spending £5 billion to connect homes and businesses onto one of the fastest networks on the planet.
“We have pinpointed 19,000 homes and businesses across Cornwall, in places that are hard to connect. And we’re inviting broadband companies to bid for £36 million worth of contracts to connect those communities.
“This will make a real, fundamental difference to people’s lives. It means that a person can start a business anywhere they like, knowing that they get the exact same opportunities as someone in London or Manchester. And that’s what this Government is all about. Backing businesses, and backing communities, wherever they are.”
During our second day breakfast, attendees heard from leading businessmen and women from across Cornwall who set out the future for Cornwall beyond tourism. Chaired by Daphne Skinnard from BBC Radio Cornwall, with panellists CLA Deputy President Victoria Vyvyan, Jonathan Jones (Commercial Director Tregothnan), Phillipa Hoskins (overseeing LNRS and Forest for Cornwall), and Louis Mather (FOLK2FOLK). An interesting discussion on the various opportunities for Cornwall in the future.
We finished the season at the Devon County Show, again welcoming Defra Minister George Eustice MP as our key speaker.
He told a sell-out crowd during our show opening breakfast that further funding for research projects to help boost farmers’ incomes by turning waste into energy was a “game-changer”. In the government’s recent Food Strategy it committed to spend a sum of £270 million on research and development as part of the Farming Innovation Programme (FIP) up to 2029 – designed to bring together farmers, businesses and researchers to drive productivity, profitability and resilience into British farming, whilst helping to improve the environment. He confirmed that £12.5million from the FIP would be set aside to focus on farm-based protein production in order to help boost domestic food production. The Minister said “Rather than seeing farm wastes like slurry as a problem and a cost, we need to start recognising that they are actually a resource that could be monetised to boost farm incomes.”
We were absolutely delighted to see so many of you at each of the breakfasts and on our show stands, it was a fantastic way to get back into the swing of putting together our show season. We are grateful to all our show partners throughout the show period for their generosity and support. We look forward to returning again in 2023.