THERE is so much talk at the moment about the green revolution.

Besides, of course, the benefits to the environment, the great hope is that it will create new employment opportunities and boost the economic benefits of moving to a net zero carbon economy.

We should indeed make sure Cumbria is a part of this, and there are opportunities for renewable energy generation in our part of the world, but, as I said at the recent Cumberland Economic Summit, we should absolutely not forget to play to our local strengths.

And these are nuclear, manufacturing, tourism – and the so often overlooked agricultural sector.

Indeed, I have been reflecting on just how important the agricultural economy is to our city and region. Farming really does matter. Producing food really does matter. As a nation we are only 60 per cent food self-sufficient. Therefore, having a strong agricultural sector is really important to the nation, not just from an economic perspective, but from a security one too.

Yes, environmental issues are important, but we should also remember that it is actually farmers who are often the key custodians of the countryside and the environment.

Indeed, 69 per cent of all the land area of the United Kingdom is used for agriculture.

For us in north Cumbria, the agricultural sector is more than just food production, it is central to our local economy. There are direct jobs in farming itself, but there are indirect benefits in employment and other business that are clearly linked to the farming sector.

For example, we have two very successful agricultural marts as well as other supporting services such as Rickerby and NFU Mutual. Then there are the professional services locally that our agricultural sector helps support.

At some point in their work, every farmer will need a banker, a solicitor, or an accountant – and locally, so much of these services exist largely to support the farming industry. Then there is also the money spent on farming products in local towns and shops, and other retail outlets.

Therefore, yes, we need to look to the opportunities and investments of the future, but let us not forget the more established sectors.

We have been farming for thousands of years in this part of the world – and while we all still need to eat, we will be farming for many more in one way or another.

Agriculture and farming in many respects is the backbone of our local economy. We should embrace it, support it, and encourage it in its continuing contribution to the wider economy and community.

So, while we focus on the green revolution, let’s be sure not to forget the successful agricultural revolution we have already had right here in our county!