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Food and farming must be recognised by Local Enterprise Partnerships


The NFU has warned that only a handful of Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) recognise food and farming as key sectors, after hearing todays announcement by the Government.

While the creation of LEPs is good news the NFU hopes they will take into account the vital contribution that agriculture can make to the economic recovery, particularly in rural areas.

NFU head of policy services Andrew Clark said: As the first batch of Local Enterprise Partnerships gets the go ahead from Government, the NFU has welcomed the new partnerships but called on them to engage more closely with agriculture and rural business.

Along with other business representatives, we asked for the partnerships to be business-driven. The good news is that it looks like thats what weve got with the LEPs approved so far.

However, reading through the initial proposals, it is apparent that farming and food are recognised as key sectors by only a handful of LEPs. Considering that farming generates some 7.1billion in gross value added terms to the UK economy, while agricultural raw materials literally feed the UK food and drink industry, it is disappointing that agri-food and rural issues are ignored in many proposals.

Agriculture can make a vital contribution to the economic recovery, especially in rural areas. Farming has multiple outputs beyond simply food: renewable energy, environmental services, rural employment and an accessible countryside. We expect that these LEPs will want to work with the tens of thousands of rural businesses involved in farming

The green light for the first batch of LEPs is just the start of the process and further clarity on the role and reach of partnerships is expected from Government

Our members recognise the long-term potential in farming. After all, the industry has 200bn invested in its assets. But we need the right support and impetus, and we hope that LEPs will be in a position to offer that support.

1.      Todays announcement by business secretary Vince Cable outlined the Governments proposal to set up 24 LEPs, which would devolve economic development powers to English regions and cities.

2.      They are intended to replace Regional Development Agencies.

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