The future of Greater Lincolnshire’s food and farming sector came under the spotlight in Pinchbeck on Friday.(July 8)
The latest Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership Big Debate brought together farmers, food industry leaders and politicians to debate the big issues facing the agri-food sector.
The LEP has ambitious plans to double the value of the sector by 2030, and the debate at Roythornes Solicitors looked at how this could be achieved.
South Holland and The Deepings MP John Hayes presented an optimistic view for the sector post-Brexit.
He said he was “not that fussed about the Single Market” and insisted businesses already knew how to trade with countries outside the EU. But he added that the UK and Greater Lincolnshire would need to produce more and import less food in future.
Mr Hayes also said that he had warned businesses for years about an over-reliance on migrant labour.
“I’ve always thought that it was risky and it’s definitely risky now,” he said, adding that free movement of labour in the UK and the EU is bound to form a central part of the UK’s Brexit negotiations.
Farmer and Greater Lincolnshire LEP board director Mark Tinsley identified three challenges facing the agri-food sector: the need to upskill the labour force, increased automation accelerated by the introduction of the National Living Wage, and the need to improve infrastructure, from road and rail links to power supply and telecommunications.
Questions were then taken from the floor by a panel which also included agricultural consultant Martin Collison, Ben Carrigan (Moy Park), Duncan Worth (QV Foods) and Lee Juniper (FreshLinc).
Topics covered how to stimulate demand for Greater Lincolnshire produce, how to increase productivity, the necessity for improvements to the road network, and the importance of promoting Greater Lincolnshire and its produce.
- The next Big Debate will be held at Belton Woods near Grantham on Tuesday, July 19 and will discuss Greater Lincolnshire’s Devolution Deal. To book a place call 01522 550515 or email enquiries@