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Optimism over pledge to revitalise farming

Call for action: farmer Tom Wadson says too much agricultural land is being used for development (File photograph)

Farmers and dairy owners have reacted with cautious optimism to a pledge by the Bermuda Government to revitalise the Island’s agricultural sector.

In the Throne Speech, the Governor, George Fergusson, announced that a Crop Sector Strategy would be completed in the coming year, while a Dairy Sector Strategy would also be undertaken during the same period.

He also outlined proposals to introduce a new policy allowing the Department of Environmental Protection to “facilitate importation of new sources of agricultural plant material at potentially lower cost”.

Farmers welcomed the announcement, but maintained that much more needed to be done to support the industry.

Tom Wadson, who runs Wadson’s Farm in Southampton, told The Royal Gazette: “While I applaud the sentiment of reducing our reliance on imported produce, what we need is action.

“A lot more work still needs to be done to address sustainability in Bermuda, and too much agricultural land is still being used for development.

“Developers need to bear in mind that we cannot farm without land, and if land is continually being taken out of production we are doomed as a profession.

“I’m encouraged by the idea of a new policy to help bring in new sources of agricultural plants, but it’s not just about planting a field full of onions, there is a bigger umbrella to address here.

“The problems in our industry go deeper than a Crop Sector Strategy, which was last done in 2002 and never acted on.”

Lidia Mederios, who together with her husband Valter, runs Green Land Dairy, also urged the Government to provide more support for the farming sector.

“It is important in this day and age to promote back-to-earth basics,” she said.

“We have forgotten how to live closer to the earth and consume foods that are alive, fresh and full of strength and vitality.

“If the Government gives farmers more support and opportunity to provide Bermudians with healthy, Bermuda-grown fruits, vegetables and fresh milk, we won’t need to consume products that are sprayed with pesticides or contain growth hormones.”

During the Throne Speech, Mr Fergusson also unveiled the Government’s plans to develop a national water strategy as well as conduct a “feasibility study” to reduce horticulture waste at the Marsh Folly facility.

Greenrock reacts, page 10