Today I took part in a panel discussion about the future of farming across Yorkshire at NAFIC in Sand Hutton. The event was attended by more than 160 people, half of whom were farmers including many from my constituency. I can understand their concerns during these challenging times about the effect Brexit might have on the sector. Many of these were focussed on the system of payment for ‘public goods’ and worries about possible cheap imports and lower standards once we are able to trade with countries outside the EU. I promised I would relay their concerns back to the Minister.
I was also honoured to have been invited to officially open CHAP’s E-Flows Mesocosm, Europe’s most advanced edge-of-field water assessment facility, which will enable environmental testing of plant protection products to meet the most stringent regulatory standards and will help introduce a wider range of more effective products to market and which will help farmers tackle threats to their crops. I was also shown the Crop Monitor, which is a sophisticated tool offering a national surveillance and forecasting service to understand the risks from crop pathogens and pests across the UK. It provides information taken from monitoring sites across the country about pest and disease activity in arable crops (wheat, barley oil seed rape and potatoes) to enable them to choose the most appropriate treatments for their crops preventing damage and improve quality and quantity.
The day was quite an eye-opener and made me realise just how important it is to use science and technology to help increase crop productivity and reduce costs.