Before Jonathan Carr made the long walk from Kendal to Carlisle and founded Carr's flour mill in the early 1800s farming and the agricultural sector in Cumbria was already established. We've faced our fair share of challenges in the past but we've fought back and our area is now leading the way in supplying the agriculture sector with products and services they need to secure Britain’s food supply; provide highly skilled jobs and growing our economy in the process.
However, the sector can’t do all the heavy lifting on it's own. Carlisle’s agricultural community needs a strong voice in Westminster. Cumbria’s farmers and agriculture sector need’s a government who will be on their side. Today, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Maria Eagle launched our rural manifesto pledging to tackle low pay for agricultural workers.
A Labour government will:
- Tackle low-pay in agriculture by creating an industry-led task force on productivity and pay as well as boosting skills and apprenticeships;
- Bring the off-grid energy sector under the remit of the regulator for the first time;
- Standing up for farmers by creating a tough new supermarket watchdog by expanding the role and powers of the Groceries Code Adjudicator;
- Cutting business rates for small businesses, which employ over two-thirds of the rural workforce;
- Ensuring that all parts of the country benefit from affordable, high-speed broadband by the end of the Parliament, and;
- Devolving powers to our English county regions, giving communities the ability to shape the places they live.
In contrast, since 2010 both the Tories and Lib Dems have failed to get to grips with the challenges facing rural Britain. We’ve seen the average wage gap between urban and rural areas increase by £1,000, over 1500 dairy farmers have gone out of businesses and many rural communities and businesses are cut off without adequate broadband coverage to support them and their businesses.
Only Labour has a plan to back rural communities building on proud traditions and rewarding hard work. We will make the economy work for working people in all parts of Britain.
Lee Sherriff is Labour's candidate for Carlisle.
You can read the full rural manifesto here.