Last week I hosted a “Farm to Fork Summit” with the Minister for Food & Farming and around 40 farmers, land-owners and food producers across my South Downs constituency. The ‘Farm to Fork’ concept brings together every aspect of this important sector of our economy: growers, producers, planning officers and hospitality all working together to deliver more self-sufficiency in what we eat and drink whilst protecting our natural landscape. And it was great to see first-hand what Brinsbury College is doing to help young people join the industry on the day students arrived to study a new agriculture T-Level. We covered everything from peat to pesticides and a particular problem with SHINE that I will follow up with DEFRA.
I was pleased to see that the EU has finally seen sense and, thanks to patient negotiation by the Prime Minister, allowed us to re-join the Horizon science programme. Both sides have much to gain with British science punching even above our usual weight as one of the world’s largest economies. We join New Zealand, Norway and Israel as countries outside the EU which are in the programme. The Windsor Framework, the Financial Services Memorandum and now Horizon means we are able to reach sensible agreements with counterparties whilst also benefitting from the sovereign freedoms to pursue our own path in areas like higher animal and environmental standards or AI.
I’m sad that as part of changes to boundaries at the next election Hassocks, Hurstpierpoint, Sayers Common and downland villages such as Fulking move into the Mid Sussex constituency for which local resident Kristy Adams has just been selected as the parliamentary candidate. I remain the local MP right up until the next General Election but its great to know that residents are in great hands with Kristy.