This week is Royal Cornwall Show week and, like most of the shows, one issue is dominating discussion: the referendum. I will be attending on Friday and taking part in several debates to explain why I believe that Cornish agriculture and the wider food industry in Cornwall will be better off if we vote to leave the EU on 23rd June.
The UK government will continue to give farmers and the environment as much support - or perhaps even more- as they get now. The Prime Minister has made this clear and I agree with him. After all, non-EU countries such as Switzerland and Norway actually give more support to their farmers than we do. In the scheme of things, the amount of money spent on our countryside and wildlife is very modest when compared with spending on other departments. But we could spend our money more effectively if we had control.
We will also maintain a free trade agreement. Last year, we exported £7.5 billion worth of food to the EU but we imported food worth £18 billion. We have an annual trade deficit with the EU in food alone of £10 billion, meaning that EU member states need a free trade deal as much as or more than we do.
In Cornwall, companies like Lynher Dairies have created new markets with their highly acclaimed Cornish Yarg. Rodda’s Cream are creating new export markets, and Falfish have ensured that Cornwall is the market leader for many fish species. These great companies will continue to do well because they have strong brands and fantastic high quality products that the rest of the world wants to buy.
I have fond memories of the Royal Cornwall Show, and my family used to show our South Devon Cattle there. My brother and father will be there this year, showing the family’s rare breed Lop Eared Pigs. I am very much looking forward to it.