The Secretary of State for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs, Michael Gove MP, came to South East Cambridgeshire on Thursday. His visit was prompted by an invitation from South East Cambridgeshire MP, Lucy Frazer. Mr Gove visited local businesses in the agriculture and agricultural technology (agritech) sectors and Ms Frazer took the opportunity to press the importance of agriculture and agritech in Brexit negotiations with the EU.
Lucy and Michael visited Barcham Trees, G’s Fresh (G’s), and the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB).They attended a series of presentations and site tours and witnessed first-hand why South East Cambridgeshire has become a world-leader in cutting-edge farming and agritech.
The visit covered the development of an arboretum at Barcham Trees, which will create up to 40 new jobs and deliver a unique visitor attraction to the area, a tour of G’s harvest rig operations, which have been the product of extensive in-house development, and a talk on the future aspirations of NIAB’s Innovation Hub, including the incubation of businesses with a waste or productivity focus.
Mr. Gove said, “The pioneering work being done in the agriculture and agri-tech sectors here is boosting business in this region and driving economic growth nationally. The UK is a world leader in agricultural research and innovation, and leaving the EU is an opportunity for us to set the global agenda.
“I am one of the people that Lucy has brought here in order to ensure we do what we can at the centre of government to help people in this part of Cambridgeshire, and specifically Ely, to achieve everything they can in the future”
Lucy Frazer added, “Businesses in Cambridgeshire are leading the field internationally in many areas. It is important to recognize the invaluable contribution this makes to the local and national economy. Hosting the Secretary of State was not only a great opportunity to showcase the fantastic work being done by local businesses in driving forward innovation but also a chance to meet with them again and discuss matters relating to Brexit and ongoing investment in research and development.”
Leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council, and Deputy Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Cllr Charles Roberts said, "it was fantastic to welcome the Environment Secretary to East Cambridgeshire. The NIAB Innovation Hub in Soham is a great example of innovation in agriculture and we're proud to have it in our patch.
"Clearly the Environment Secretary was impressed with what he saw. It was good to see employees raise concerns they have directly with such a senior member of Government."
Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, James Palmer added, "The former LEP played a key role in supporting the Innovation Hub. I am clear in my view that the new Combined Authority Business board will continue to provide whatever help it can in order to support the great work going on there."