My Reply to Rural Jersey's e-Hustings
Tuesday, May 15, 2018
Here is my response to Rural Jersey's request for my views on the promotion of agriculture and the protection of the countryside and natural environment in Jersey.
Being green is not just about using less plastic; we also need to protect our countryside and marine life. Whoever you elect to represent you in the forthcoming election will have input in the 2020 Island plan. The present Island plan has so far minimised the encroachment of large developments into our green zones which we need to protect. However, as the population increases additional land must be purchased by the States for future development. Areas could include disused greenhouses and brown-field sites.
I am concerned about food security and believe that we rely too heavily on fresh fruit and vegetables being imported into the Island. This practice should be discouraged and local supermarkets should be encouraged to sell more locally produced crops. This would result in fresher produce, reduced packaging and a lower carbon footprint.
If elected, I look forward to working with the agricultural industry in resolving their recruitment crisis. We should introduce short-term work permits of approximately 8 to 10 months for non EU manual workers as it seems farm workers from the UK and EU are reluctant to come to Jersey at present and farm work isn’t appealing to many locals.
Jersey used to have an Agriculture and Fisheries Department. I would like to investigate the feasibility of bringing these departments together under one banner along with Environment to provide one streamlined department.
Although the GVA from agriculture is low compared to other industries, the value added to the Island is substantial and produce a number of benefits that need careful consideration.
I would also support initiatives to help organic farming move away from relying on the use of pesticides. Farmers have begun to reduce their use of chemicals and some are conducting experiments to move from chemical to regenerative farming. Early indications from the results are encouraging; reduced costs, reduced need for staff, earlier crops and better drainage of fields, not to mention stronger plants and much better quality of crops.