Today I met Caroline from the NFU. Ipswich is the County Town for rural Suffolk, so we had lots to discuss from apprenticeships to the cost of fertiliser and reducing fly-tipping.
I was keen to emphasise the importance of agricultural apprenticeships. Skills, training and apprenticeships is something I am always trying to promote to ensure the best opportunities for Ipswich people. When it comes to agricultural apprenticeships, it seems that more certainty is required in the way they are run. Level 2 apprenticeships are currently available for a certain period of time, however there is nothing to replace them and this is creating some uncertainty. Many young people from Ipswich travel to rural areas of Suffolk to work in agriculture, and a number of Ipswich-based students take courses at Suffolk Rural college, which is linked to Suffolk New College, so this is an issue which affects both rural Suffolk and our County Town.
Another key issue we discussed was the increasing cost of fertiliser. Suffolk farms import fertiliser via Port of Ipswich, and fertiliser prices have shot up. This is impacting not only local farms growing British produce here in Suffolk, but also having an effect on the Port of Ipswich trade.
I had the chance to raise the issue of fly-tipping, which is prevalent around rural Suffolk. This is an issue which constituents have raised with me as something they have noticed when out and about across the county. I wanted to discuss this with Caroline and see what can be done to reduce the issue together.
Thank you to Caroline for an interesting and productive meeting.