As part of my job I try and get out and about visiting businesses, and various groups in the County. It is really interesting to learn what is happening 'on the ground' around the West Sussex and also thinking about the different ways the County Council can help.
A few weeks ago I met up with the County Adviser, Chairman and other farmers of the West Sussex NFU( National Farmers Union).
When the County Council was formed 125 years ago it was a very rural County, one of the concerns then was the condition of the roads, not for cars but for driving cattle! Animal welfare was very much a priority, particularly good animal husbandry.
Over the years the County has changed but the rural and farming part is still very important as farmers in West Sussex not only play an important part in food security but also in promoting English produce where farming is the foundation stone of the food and drink industry.
Equally important, and in addition, farmers are stewards of the land. Keeping it in good shape, looking after the hedgerows and protecting the environment, they play an important part in maintaining the beautiful West Sussex landscape whether in the High Wield, National Park or in the coastal Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
If farmers from 125 years ago came back today and saw how the land is managed and farmed today they really would be astounded. One large high tech tractor doing the work of tens of agricultural workers in a very short time.
Farming has changed. It's been mechanised and is a science and knowledge based industry to maximise food production to meet growing demand for a regular supply of reasonably priced produce.
It is often said that there is a disconnect of understanding about where our food comes from. Farmers' Markets where local produce is promoted helps with understanding the connections of food and farming. At WSCC we also play a part in producing the Taste West Sussex Magazine which is very popular with readers So I was really pleased to have this meeting and it was a productive meeting. Like everyone else across the County the farmers have had to cope with flooding. So flooding was very much on their list along with shared concerns about the dissolution of Internal Drainage Boards and it was really helpful to learn how they were approaching this issue , as well as food security and the farming role for the nation's future.
The NFU explained their awareness campaign about the damage Chinese Lanterns can do not just to the countryside but harm to animals as well.
Hopefully something that will be debated at Full County Council on the 6th June.
I look forward to our next meeting in the Autumn.
But in the meantime I hope you will forgive me for giving a plug to our UK farmers by encouraging, where possible, people to buy British (or even better West Sussex) and support our farmers and food producers.
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