New DEFRA secretary Owen Paterson visited the Lakes Free Range Egg Co at Stainton, Penrith, this week to launch the new Rural Statement.
This is England’s first contract between government and the countryside, backed by a £680m budget, designed to do things like improve broadband coverage, cut red tape and boost public services in rural areas.
The Lakes was chosen as part of the official visit to Cumbria to highlight how investment in rural businesses can create a sustainable rural economy.
The company benefited from a DEFRA grant to enable it to develop what is likely to be the UK’s first carbon-neutral egg packing plant and invest in the latest robotic technology.
On his visit, Mr Paterson said: “Our investment means the company can create jobs, increase turnover and improve profits for many local farmers thanks to increased demand. That reflects our approach to rural growth. We want to give rural businesses the technology and infrastructure they need, then step back and let them thrive. Our promise to deliver Europe’s best broadband network will boost the prospects of this business and thousands more like it.”
Company owner David Brass said he was pleased to show how DEFRA grant funding has helped develop a sustainable and profitable rural business.
“It’s good to hear that government recognises that rural economic growth is vital and reducing red tape will be welcomed,” he said. “The egg industry is relatively free of red tape and that has certainly helped us.”