Rural watchdog’s call to fix market failuresThe Government will need to act to put right market failures – that's the message the national vice-president of the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) has delivered to landowners in Herefordshire.
The CLA's Herefordshire branch held its AGM at The Whittern Farms, near Kington to hear Henry Robinson explain the key concerns the rural watchdog will be flagging up with ministers in the new Government.
The link, he says, is market failure, and he spoke about issues including broadband provision and the Common Agricultural Policy.
"In some of those areas there has been a complete failure in the market – access to broadband, for example, is a vital tool for all modern businesses, not just those based in the towns and yet the market has singularly failed to meet the demand. This is one area where the Government will have to intervene to ensure that businesses based in our rural communities can continue to compete with their urban counterparts."
But he warned that the biggest failure in the market was where the environmental goods provided by farmers and land managers were simply expected to materialise as a free add-on to farming.
"The big challenge is to get people to understand that, if we want farmers to continue to deliver food - for which the market pays - and environmental goods - for which the market does not pay - then payment for the public goods has to come from the public purse – in this case via the Single Farm Payment. Farming must be efficient, competitive and viable in the long term because without a viable farming industry we'll get neither the food nor the environment we want," he said.
Mr Robinson said that nowhere was this issue better demonstrated than in Herefordshire where livestock farmers were critical to the continued well being of the environment and landscape – and, therefore, to the associated tourist industries.
"Yet the market in food goods alone cannot support the farmers and there is a real risk that if we lose the skills and the farmers from the landscape, we will lose the landscape itself," he said.
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Henry Robinson, Deputy President of the CLA and Chairman of the CLA’s Board, owns and manages a farm in Gloucestershire. His main crops are wheat and oilseed rape and he also lets out workshops and cottages.
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