NFU has today called for swift implementation of the Government’s rural productivity plan and urged Defra to work jointly with NFU and others to deliver a brighter future for the farming industry.
Andrew Clark, NFU Director of Policy said: “This is a step in the right direction, alongside the proposed 25-year Food and Farming Strategy and immediate steps to address the current crisis many farmers are facing. We are pleased that this Government recognises the potential of the rural economy to the nation’s productivity challenge. Having a rural growth plan in place is long over-due, but what’s now critical is that practical actions and measures are implemented effectively and quickly to benefit farmers and their families.
“Farming is at the heart of the rural economy. Our sector’s contribution to the economy has grown by £3.1 billion or 45% to almost £10bn in the five years to 2014. With the right conditions we can continue this impressive long term growth. But to achieve this, we need greater “rural proofing” of all policies and so we look forward to working closely with Government to address the challenges and constraints identified to delivering a more prosperous future
Mr Clark also responded to the inclusion of regulation, the delivery of rural broadband and the development of enterprise zones within the plan.
NFU Policy Director Andrew Clark:
On mobile and broadband services
“The delivery of rural broadband and mobile phone infrastructure is lagging behind demand and affecting both farmers and wider rural communities’ ability to do business and compete. There needs to be immediate solutions to ensure our members receive the affordable, reliable and fast services which are needed today.
"This is a recurrent concern for most farm businesses so continuing efforts to reduce the administrative burden will help farmer to compete fairly both within Europe and globally."
On Enterprise Zones
“We would also wish to see Enterprise Zones for rural areas focused on those areas where food and farming can best take advantage of simplified planning and tax breaks to help support local farming economies.”