Food and farming leaders joined MPs and councillors for a one day conference to highlight the importance of reliable water sources for irrigating crops grown in East Suffolk.
Water: Farming’s Essential Ingredient was organised by East Suffolk Water Abstractors Group, with support from Suffolk Agricultural Association, and hosted by farm manager Tim Pratt at Wantisden Hall Farms.
The day included presentations and a farm tour, as well as the chance for discussion and debate around this key issue.
The aim was to demonstrate the importance of a reliable source of water for irrigating crops grown in Suffolk and how this impacts on a key sector for the regional economy and a source of food production for the country as a whole.
It also served to highlight issues around water abstraction licences and the steps farmers are taking in the region towards responsible water usage and environmental protection.
Tim Darby, manager of ESWAG, said: “With the reliance of agricultural and horticultural production in East Suffolk on a secure supply of water, we need to make sure that the key decision and policy makers are aware of our unique situation.”
NFU national water resources specialist Paul Hammett praised the conference organisers for the theme they had chosen.
“Let’s be clear. Water for food is a really big deal in Suffolk and its neighbouring counties,” he said.
“Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk are responsible for 34 per cent of the nation’s output of fresh produce - £1.1 billion in value. If you consider that the value of our national wheat crop is £1.9 billion that puts things into perspective.
"That irrigated crop sector also contributes to the significant food manufacturing and processing sector around us in East Anglia."
- A full report of the event will appear in September’s edition of British Farmer & Grower, out on 25 August.