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Support for farming announced

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FUNDING will be set aside for the farming industry to help it increase productivity by investing in new technology, the Economic Development Minister has said.

Royal Square, States Building. States members going into the States Chamber. Senator Lyndon Farnham Picture: ROB CURRIE. (27259626)

Senator Lyndon Farnham said providing assistance to the rural economy would in turn allow employers to move towards paying staff a living wage.

Jersey Farmers’ Union president Peter Le Maistre has previously spoken in favour of embracing new technology. In 2017, Manor Farm in St Peter introduced a robot milking machine, while more recently a ‘slurry hoover’ has been deployed at Lodge Farm in St Saviour.

Senator Farnham said: ‘There will have to be some form of financial support in the early stages. We are considering expanding the Rural Initiative Scheme. That is a fund that needs to be developed to focus on perhaps assisting farmers to acquire equipment and infrastructure that will drive technology and enable more efficient usage. A number of farmers have already invested in said technologies and the number of people they will need to employ in the future will reduce.

‘One of the key priorities for me and my department is the economic framework, but an early part of that work is finding productivity support for the rural economy sector to help them become more productive and meet the aspirations of the States Assembly, which is to drive the Island towards a living wage in the not-too-distant future. It is essential we provide support for the traditional sectors of our economy.’

The minister added that discussions were still ongoing and that the level of funding support had not yet been decided.

He added that as well as boosting the industry, providing more support to the farming sector had additional benefits.

He said: ‘The priority must be given to the rural economy for the time being, I think, not least because somewhere between 60 and 70% of our Island [land] is managed by that sector. Outside of the economic benefit of the exportation of our world-famous crops and dairy, the farmers are also stewards for hugely important parts of our land. We must ensure that they continue to be custodians of the countryside.’

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