THE pledge to 'back farmers' in the government's long-awaited food strategy has been welcomed across south Cumbria.

The plans outlined this week will see £270 million invested into farming programmes, supporting farmers to harness new, innovative methods to boost home-grown fruit and vegetable production, and in turn create new job opportunities across the country.

Although the strategy has been criticised by some, Simon Fell MP said: “Away from its industrial heart, Furness is a patchwork of rural, farming communities. Many constituents who work in these sectors have contacted me to say that they welcome this funding, which will give them the certainty they have been asking for and increase UK food resilience.

“But farming goes beyond fields and livestock. Locally we also have a remarkable aquaculture sector based in Morecambe Bay, and this funding will help develop this source of protein, farmed right here in Furness, to reach even more people. Given the global shocks we are all experiencing right now, this emphasis on resilience and local production is crucial, and I am hopeful that this strategy will help our local producers to supply locally, and to maintain and grow our exceptionally high standards.”

As well as stepping up work with industry to identify ways to help more people into jobs all along the food supply chain, the strategy also sets out plans to create a new professional body for the farming and growing industry to step up professional training and develop clear career pathways, equipping people and businesses with the skills needed to run sustainable and profitable businesses.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:“Harnessing new technologies and innovation, we will grow and eat more of our own food - unlocking jobs across the country and growing the economy, which in turn will ultimately help to reduce pressure on prices.”

Environment Secretary George Eustice added: “The food industry is bigger than the automotive and aerospace industries combined, offering employment opportunities, apprenticeships and investment in research and development.The strategy we are setting out today will increase the focus on skills in the food sector, and the roles and career pathways available. In particular, we will seek to boost our horticulture industry and ensure the expertise needed to develop the sector here in the UK.”