Productivity: Rural Areas

Part of RAF Valley: Funding and Employment – in Westminster Hall at 5:07 pm on 14th October 2020.

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Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health) 5:07 pm, 14th October 2020

I congratulate you, Ms Ghani, on getting to the position that you are in. It is lovely to see you there and I wish you well. I thank Scott Mann for setting the scene. I will talk about Brexit and the opportunities, because that is where I feel that we have those chances.

The dairy industry and connected agrifood industry is a massive rural key. One dairy corporate in my constituency in Northern Ireland has 2,500 farming families depending on it. We look forward to moving forward to continue trade and to enhance that. When it comes to productivity, Brexit will give us that opportunity. Mash Direct, Rich Sauces and Lakeland Dairies in my constituency have shown that global trade is possible, exporting as far away as China. That is something that the former Minister for International Development enabled us to develop.

To move forward, we need the Government centrally and the Minister to work with the Northern Ireland Assembly. They need to work alongside each other, to negotiate the choppy tides of leaving the EU, to hit the wide-open seas of free trade and commerce, and to reach the global potential that exists. In my farming constituency, it reaches down from the big companies, which between the three of them employ some 2,500 people, plus the farmers who live off them. Glastry Farm produces excellent ice cream. I said last night that Portavogie prawns are the best prawns in the country; well, Glastry Farm ice cream is the best ice cream that there is. It is a local farm that has diversified and done what it can to increase rural productivity.

I quickly underline the importance of post offices and banks, because of the wellbeing they provide. Dave Doogan is a member of a party—the Scots Nats—whose Members have spoken out in the House about bank closures many times. I have been in every debate; I want to make sure that is on the record.

I want to ensure that we address the issue of broadband, to reach out to isolated rural areas and to help small and medium-sized businesses, because if we can do that, we can raise productivity and we can all do better across the great United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.