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Farmers: Markets

Volume 491: debated on Wednesday 22 April 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what schemes he supports to promote farmers’ markets and local produce in Lancaster and Wyre constituency. (266040)

The Government support local markets of all types including farmers markets.

Funding is available for opening new marketing opportunities for agricultural and forestry products, putting the emphasis on quality under Axis 1 of the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE). Under Axis 3 of the RDPE, funding is available for the promotion of tourism activities linked to quality regional and local food culture.

Since 2002, the North West Development Agency (NWDA) has supported Made in Lancashire, an organisation specifically designed to promote Lancashire’s local and speciality food producers. They work with producers, retailers and food service outlets to bring Lancashire’s local food to market, including promoting the county’s farmer’s markets, such as those held at Poulton-Le-Fylde and Thornton. Made in Lancashire also worked closely with Lancashire and Blackpool Tourist Board in helping to create the “Taste of Lancashire” accreditation scheme.

The NWDA seeks to use funding provided by the European Regional Development Fund to continue the support of this high growth area.

The NWDA also supports Food Northwest; a strategic body representing the Northwest Food and Drink Industry. Food Northwest aims to boost growth of the industry, and help the sector maximise its economic potential through training workshops, ‘meet the buyer’ events and other activities.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what funding his Department has made available for the promotion of farmers’ markets in 2008-09. (268353)

Our support for the sector continues with the award, in January 2008, of funding under the Agriculture Development Scheme to the National Farmers' Retail and Markets Association (FARMA). This funding of £176,000 over three years is for a project to develop a national producer verification scheme for farmers' markets and an assurance scheme for farm shops. As a result of this project, we hope that the combination of producer verification with the farmers' market certification scheme will result in strengthened consumer confidence in farmers' markets.

Funding is also available to support rural retail in Merseyside (under which the businesses involved in farmers’ markets would benefit) through the Rural Development Programme for England. The North West Development Agency is responsible for administering this funding programme through which £2 million will be invested over the next five years.