CENTRAL Devon is one of the most rural constituencies in the country. We have some of the best farmers in the UK and produce fantastic food to the highest standards. We should be very proud of this.

This is why as your local MP I make it a priority to regularly meet representatives from our farming and rural communities.

Recently I attended a NFU meeting in Crediton with farmers from across Devon to hear their views and answer their questions on our local farming industry.

It is clear there are many challenges facing farming in Devon, including access to both high-skilled and low-skilled seasonal labour and the need to bring young blood into the industry through agricultural apprenticeships and training. 

In recognising the pivotal role young farmers will play in the future of our farming industry, I am extremely proud my constituency is home to the Rural Hub of the Devon Federation of Young Farmers’ in Cheriton Bishop. A great example of our commitment to nurturing the next generation of agricultural leaders.

People at the meeting also spoke about a number of other issues from Bovine TB, ELMS payments and the Sustainable Farming Initiative (SFI) to planning and energy costs.

However the central theme that ran through many of the issues raised by the local NFU members was food security.

Beyond producing food, our farmers are custodians of the environment, stewards of our land, rivers, woodlands, and wildlife habitats.

Their role in enhancing biodiversity and mitigating climate change cannot be overstated.

However, what I get loud and clear from our farmers is that it is vital we strike the right balance between environmental conservation and food security.

Navigating the complexities of this rapidly changing world, from global events to economic fluctuations, such as the impact of the war in Ukraine on energy prices, the resilience of our rural economy and protecting food security is becoming more and more important.

In terms of wider agricultural policy, I am pleased to report that the Government has brought forward measures in the Spring Budget that will provide £168 million of financial support for farmers. We are delivering our plan for sustainable farming and matching EU funding, but recognise we must go further to protect and secure the future of British farming.

We are also continuing to support the Buy Local campaign, encouraging everyone to support our farmers and food producers to boost rural jobs. 

Alongside these are commitments to take tough action on rural crime and issues that affect farmers every day. That is why the Government is supporting a Bill introduced by a Conservative MP to address the issue of livestock worrying, which I know can cause huge distress to animals and costs farmers and rural communities. 

Our farmers are vital to local communities but also to the whole country which is why I work so hard to ensure that their voice is heard loud and clear in Westminster.