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Norfolk's high tech agriculture industry on show for Secretary of State

Norfolk County Council, 22 January 2024 15:32

Norfolk businesses at the cutting edge of agri-tech have been on display following a visit from the Secretary of State for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to the county.

DEFRA Secretary Stephen Barclay visited the Broadland Food Innovation Centre, at the Food Enterprise Park in Easton, Norfolk, to witness first-hand the range of technological solutions being employed by Norfolk farmers. These included a visit to Fischer Farms' new state-of-the-art 25,000m2 vertical farm, as well as Club Cultured's fermentation facility.

The Secretary of State, alongside Norfolk County Council Leader Kay Mason Billig, Tom McCabe, CEO of Norfolk County Council and Chris Starkie, Director of Growth and Investment at Norfolk County Council, were given tours of the cutting edge facilities, which include some of the most advanced and innovative farming methods in use in the UK.

Steve Barclay MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said: "Norfolk's innovative approach to food production goes back centuries and it was clear from my visit this morning that the county remains at the forefront of this innovation today. From fermented foods to salad grown in vertical farms, it was great to witness first-hand the ingenuity and dedication of Norfolk businesses who are finding new and sustainable ways to produce home-grown food and drink."

Kay Mason Billig, Leader of Norfolk County Council, said: "When people think of Norfolk, beautiful farmland is often among the first images that comes to mind, but they may not realise the same county is the original home of innovative, technologically driven new ways of growing and processing those crops. With over 8,000 businesses and almost 80,000 employees in the agriculture, food and drink sector across Norfolk and Suffolk, our county is one of the leading agri-food locations in the country, and it's been a privilege to help show the Secretary of State just how many lessons the rest of the UK could learn from our businesses here in Norfolk."

Apart from being in one of the most fertile areas of the UK, East Anglian farmers grow enough grain alone to bake over 5 billion loaves of bread every year. Norfolk is also home to world leading plant and food scientists at the John Innes Centre, the Sainsbury Laboratory and the Earlham Institute. Innovative companies such as Fischer Farms utilise the cutting-edge research being done in the county to form new solutions to the challenges modern agriculture faces, such as their vertical farm, which not only utilises land efficiently but also cuts carbon emissions for each ton of produce grown.

Tristan Fischer, Founder and CEO of Fischer Farms, said: "The Norfolk area is a real hub for agricultural innovation, and we are extremely proud to be a part of this movement. The Norwich Food Enterprise Park is a game-changer for businesses like ours and is something that should be replicated in other areas of the UK. It was a pleasure to welcome Mr Barclay and his colleagues from Norfolk County Council to our new vertical farm, right here in the heart of Norwich, and discuss the opportunity that our industry has to support the agricultural sector as it moves towards a more sustainable and productive future."

Last modified: 14 May 2024 13:20