About CLA East

CLA East is here to help you and your rural business in the region
About us
CLA East

CLA East provides services and rural representation for members in the counties of Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Middlesex, Norfolk, Suffolk, Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire.

Contact us

Our main office telephone number is 01638 590 429. Alternatively, send an email to east@cla.org.uk

Our address

CLA East, The Court, Lanwades Business Park, Kentford, Newmarket, Suffolk, CB8 7PN

Find us on social media

Follow latest updates from CLA East on Twitter here.

Serving members in the East

CLA East has thousands of farming, landowning and rural business members. They range from countryside enthusiasts with an acre or less to some of Britain's best-known farmers and biggest estates, plus a hugely diverse range of rural businesses. These members are supported by the regional team of staff and served by county and regional committees.

Campaigning

We campaign regionally on behalf of our members and the whole rural economy. We lobby national and local Government, respond to consultations and have representation in a range of organisations to safeguard our members' interests.

Help and advice

Our knowledge of planning, public access and environmental issues enables us to advise members on diversification and a wide range of other issues. We can also call upon our tax and legal experts at headquarters to advise on more complex matters. For help and advice on any matter, large or small, contact the team at the regional office. If we are unable to deal with the query we have a database of other experts with whom we can put you in touch.

Regional events

We arrange a number of seminars, webinars, visits and social events for the benefit of our members. These are advertised in our Enews and on the regional pages of the CLA's national Land & Business magazine.

Our regional committees

Our branch committee members are the eyes and ears of the CLA in each county and form an important role in formulating national policy, ensuring views and concerns of members in the East are taken into account with CLA national lobbying. To find out who is on your branch committee click on your county below.

CLA Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire branch

The Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire branch committee is here to represent the interests of the county’s members and ensure your concerns are heard at county, national and European levels.

Contact your committee via the regional office at east@cla.org.uk if you have any concerns you would like to address, or indeed if you would like to become more involved.

President: Robert Sears

Hon Vice-Presidents: The Lord De Ramsey, DL; Sir Samuel Whitbread KCVO; Sir Hugh Duberly CBE DL KCVO.

Chair: James Stafford, Marquis of Stafford

Committee: Tim Breitmeyer; Richard Cobbald; Richard Crane; Jeannette Dennis; Freddie Fellowes; Ian Gould; Tom Martin; Alastair Morbey; James Peck; Edward Philips; Julian Polhill; Andrew Ramply; Sam Topham; and Robyn Ward.

CLA Essex branch

The Essex branch committee is here to represent the interests of the county's members and ensure that your concerns are heard at county, national and European levels.

Contact your committee via the regional office at east@cla.org.uk if you have any concerns you would like to address, or indeed if you would like to become more involved.

President: Jonathan Douglas-Hughes OBE DL

Chair: Simon Dixon Smith MRICS FAAV

Vice-Chair: Caroline Ratcliff

Committee: Simon Brice; Tim Cooper; Jeremy Finnis; David Flemming; James Gray; Nicholas Harper; Christopher Hill; Simon Marriage; Peter O'Donnell; Graham Page; Michael Payne; Tom Philp;  Edward Rout; Archie Ruggles-Brise; Andrew Schwier; Gavin Strathern; William Sunnucks; Andrew Tetlow; and Edward Worthy.

CLA Hertfordshire and Middlesex branch

The Hertfordshire and Middlesex branch committee is here to represent your interests and ensure your concerns are heard at county, national and European levels.

Contact your committee via the regional office at east@cla.org.uk if you have any concerns you would like to address, or indeed if you would like to become more involved.

President: Wilfrid Dimsdale

Honorary Vice-Presidents: Ralph Abel Smith; C Harry A Bott MBE JP DL; Sir Simon Bowes Lyon; and The Hon Richard Pleydell-Bouverie DL.

Chair: Nicholas Buxton

Vice-Chair: Richard Pilkington

Committee: Patrick Beddows; David de Boinville; Becky Bone; Diana Collingridge; Kenneth Grant; Gallia Grimston; Guy Halsey; Nicholas G Halsey; Henry Holland-Hibbert; Edward Lytton-Cobbold; David Miller;  James Nall-Cain; Victoria Sandberg; Tim Starkey; Ed Wainwright-Lee; and Tom Williams.

CLA Lincolnshire branch

The Lincolnshire branch committee is here to represent the interests of the county's members and ensure that your concerns are heard at county, national and European levels.

Contact your committee via the regional office at east@cla.org.uk if you have any concerns you would like to address, or indeed if you would like to become more involved.

President: Michael Scott

Chair: William Price

Vice-Chair: Duncan Worth

Committee: Tom Anderson; Tim Banks; James Birch; Christopher Bourn; William Cracroft-Eley; Simeon Disley; Roger Douglas; Johnny Dudgeon; Christopher Heneage; Jonathan Gibbons; Amy Jobe; Richard Langton; James Milligan-Manby; Thomas Nelthorpe; George Playne; Stafford Proctor; Kit Read; Graham Rowles Nicholson; Oliver Shooter; Peter Wiggins-Davies; Ben Wills; David Wood; Alan Robson (observer).

CLA Norfolk branch

The Norfolk branch committee is here to represent the interests of the county's members and ensure that your concerns are heard at county, national and European levels.

Contact your committee via the regional office at east@cla.org.uk if you have any concerns you would like to address, or indeed if you would like to become more involved.

President: Chris Allhusen

Chair: Gavin Lane

Vice-Chair: Charlie MacNicol

Committee: Edward Bailey; Mark Balfour; Tom Blofeld; Alexis Brun; Richard Cobbald; Sarah Exton; Rachael Hipperson; Sarah Keene; James Keith; The Earl of Leicester (Tom); Mark Little; Alexander Mann; Emily Norton; Edward Parsons; Justin Ripman; Michael Sayer; and Lorna Spear.

CLA Northamptonshire branch

The Northamptonshire branch committee is here to represent the interests of the county's members and ensure that your concerns are heard at county, national and European levels.

Contact your committee via the regional office at east@cla.org.uk if you have any concerns you would like to address, or indeed if you would like to become more involved.

President: Rupert West

Honorary Vice-Presidents: Sir Hereward Wake Bt MC DL.

Chair:  Colin Sotheby

Committee: Marcus Berridge; David Bletsoe; James Broadbent; Robert Brudenell; Henry Clemons; Jonathan Farr; Rachael Gladstone Brown; Fred Hillsdon; David Hutchinson; Justin Mumford; Rachael Gladstone Brown; Rebecca Ruck Keene; David Reynolds OBE DL; David Slack; Colin Sotherby; John Thame; Alice Townsend; Johnny Wake; and Gareth Williams.

CLA Nottinghamshire branch

The Notinghamshire branch committee is here to represent the interests of the county's members and ensure that your concerns are heard at county, national and European levels. 

Contact your committee via the regional office at east@cla.org.uk if you have any concerns you would like to address, or indeed if you would like to become more involved.

President: Henry Machin

Honorary Vice-Presidents: Sir Andrew Buchanan Bt.; Sir Edward Nall Bt.; and Sir John Starkey Bt., DL.

Chair: Nick Brown

Vice-Chair: James Helliwell

Committee: Tim Bradshaw; Mark Chatterton; Michael Chennells; Mark Clayton; Chloe Gill-Issacs; Jonathan Morgan-Smith; Henry Murch; Tony Strawson; Robert Wofinden and Lauren Clark (observer).

CLA Suffolk branch

The Suffolk branch committee is here to represent the interests of the county's members and ensure that your concerns are heard at county, national and European levels.

Contact your committee via the regional office at east@cla.org.uk if you have any concerns you would like to address, or indeed if you would like to become more involved.

President: Graham Downing.

Honorary Vice-Presidents: Countess Cranbrook OBE; Sir Edward Greenwell Bt DL; Bennett Swayne.

Chair:  James Pearson

Vice-Chair: Edward Willis

Committee: Andrew Blois; Ben Crossman; John-Davie Thornhill; Alastair Dixon; Beth Duchesne; James Harris; Ellie Hay; Michael Horton; Bruce Kerr; Chris Leney; Tom McVeigh; Chris Soule; Edward Tollemache; Hugo Upton; Nicholas Wooley; Edward Vere Nicoll and Edward Vipond; 

CLA Chair's reports

CLA Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire branch

Chair’s Report 2021

Julian Polhill

There is just a seven month period to report on since our last, delayed, AGM at the end of October 2020 as, like the country as a whole, we start in hope to get back on track post-lockdowns. Although again without physical events, the Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire Committee and the CLA East team have been busy online.

Many thanks to Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire Chief Constables for briefing the committee in such detail at the turn of the year on the policies, budgets and plans for the two county forces. The CLA East team ably followed through on our messages with their campaign directed at the candidates for the Police and Crime Commissioner elections in both counties. Grateful thanks as well to Cambridge County Council who again fielded an impressive and wide team to brief the committee and answer our questions on a whole range of issues across the county. They all went out of their way to help the committee, and in a demanding time too. Thank you.

Online, the CLA has continued to excel in producing informative and stimulating webinars and podcasts on all aspects of its business. In our area, the CLA’s Alice Ritchie and Water Resources East in particular drew an interesting map of the potential future of water demand and supply, urban and rural. A podcast on Bedfordshire members at Box End Park highlighted the value and very active role of the CLA Member Advice Service and its focus on business sustainability.

Of particular immediacy to a number of members across the two counties was the CLA webinar with DEFRA and the Ministry of Housing on the Oxford Cambridge Arc. This covered the project, consultation and engagement process and the opportunities for bio-offsetting and natural capital.

On the Corporate and Social Responsibility side, it was good to see the CLA Charitable Trust, funded by members, award a grant towards a Cambridgeshire charity, Rowan, for those with learning disabilities. The grant was towards a kitchen for Rowan’s new Forest School and an all-terrain wheelchair.

At a national level of course the Association has continued its most valuable work on policy and influencing government and the production of truly excellent information and advice pieces for members on a vast range of relevant topics.

In just a moment or two I retire as chair after a necessarily rather remote, online period. Before I go, may I thank our President and the Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire Committee for their invaluable support, and all the CLA East team, especially Nick and Alex, for all their wonderful work and help – and patience. It has been a pleasure. Thank you.

CLA Essex branch

Chair’s Report 2021

Simon Dixon Smith

I must start by thanking William Sunnucks who agreed to extend his role as county chairman until the delayed county AGM, eventually held virtually at the end of October last year. William brought an enquiring mind and a sharp eye for detail to the role and did not hesitate to ask difficult questions of the CLA and the organisations with which we liaise. I will endeavour to continue his good work!

2020 was always going to be an important year for the rural sector with Brexit and the re-patriation of agricultural and environmental policy. Covid-19 did not result in a delay to a departure from the EU, but did mean that new legislation was delayed and land managers had less time to react to emerging policy.

The Agriculture Act was finally signed into law in November, largely unchanged from the early drafts. A series of consultations in early 2021 will shape the secondary legislation which will determine the impact on the ground. The CLA have been working hard to ensure that the vital role of farmers and landowners is not undermined by agricultural, environmental or tax laws.

In Essex we have greater opportunity than many counties to diversify and there are few farms now that do not earn some income outside agriculture. This trend is set to continue. A major growth area is likely to be natural capital and biodiversity net gain. There are many housing and infrastructure projects planned in the county and new planning rules will require these developments to deliver biodiversity net gain. Much of this will be on third party land. We wait to see how landowners will access this demand and how the market will price the provision of this service.

We maintain close links with the County Council who have declared a Climate Emergency and set up a county wide Climate Action Commission. We are grateful to Archie Ruggles-Brise for representing landowners and the CLA on the Land Use special interest group, which feeds into the Commission. The County will be supporting environmental initiatives and has already committed funds to a tree planting programme.

I would encourage all Essex members to keep a close eye on communications from the CLA and to attend events as often as possible, hopefully in person in 2021. Decisions made this year will be vital to the ongoing viability of rural businesses. Covid-19 has had a major impact, particularly on leisure and hospitality businesses as well as landlords. The CLA has been instrumental in lobbying for Government support in these areas and will press for this support to be extended as necessary until the pandemic is under control.

A side effect of Covid-19 has been a move to increased digital content available through the CLA website, including excellent interviews and webinars, culminating in the Rural Powerhouse Week in late November. These remain available to view in your own time and are well worth a look.

The Essex committee will continue to provide feedback to our excellent regional team in Newmarket. We welcome comments and contributions from all members.

CLA Hertfordshire branch

Chair’s Report 2021

Nicholas Buxton

It is just two months since our last Herts & Middlesex AGM on 6th November. But already I'm asked to prepare a Chairman's statement for the next AGM. In any other year I might find myself short of material and casting about for inspiration. But not this year. Not 2020. In just two short months, the world has moved on apace.

The Agriculture Bill is signed into statute. A Brexit deal is signed. And after an Autumn lull, Covid-19 is returned with a vengeance.

Each one of these developments is momentous and far-reaching. The consequences and implications of all of them will be worked out over many years. The CLA is hard at work safeguarding your interests on every front.

But before the gloomsters start agonizing over the hazards and challenges that lie ahead, let’s pause, and be thankful for what is achieved.

The Agriculture Bill and the Environment Bill, both signed into law in November, will together reshape the rural landscape we live and work in for a generation. Direct payments are going, and the farming industry is challenged to embrace a new future, a future focused on productivity, delivery of Public Goods, and doing our bit to mitigate climate change. Even if the detail is still far from clear, the direction of travel is clear.

We have a tariff and quota free deal with Europe, our largest trading partner. Against all odds, this essential deal, four years in the making, is agreed. We can plan ahead with confidence.

And on Covid, the vaccines are on general release, and the UK has vaccinated more people than the rest of Europe combined. For all the undoubted heartache, hardship and sacrifice, we can begin to look beyond these last few weeks of confinement to a return to some sort of normality in months ahead.

But how best to navigate these uncharted waters? How best to seize the opportunities that lie ahead, and steer clear of the sharp reefs that may lie submerged?

Where better to turn, than to than the CLA, and to your membership card, which will have arrived through your letterbox recently. Take a moment to look at the reverse. And note that … The CLA is your association; your membership provides you with the ability to influence decision-makers; it provides you with insight on issues that affect your land and business; and access to expert guidance to help manage the land business. Here is your encouragement.

Be assured that today and in the months and years ahead, the CLA is your ally, an influential, insightful and expert partner in all manner of matters. I do encourage you to use it.

CLA Lincolnshire branch

Chair’s Report 2021

William Price

It seems very odd to be writing another Chairman’s report without having taken part in a real, live CLA event for such a very long time. We have had a great many strains, sadnesses and losses under the shadow of Covid and of the lockdowns but for many of us, it is the human contact of meeting in person that we miss most. The Lincolnshire Show serves as an example: it has long been a highlight of the County’s and of the CLA’s calendar and it is a great shame, though totally understandable, that it has had to be cancelled for a second year in succession.

However, to dwell only on the downsides of current life feels most un-British and quite contrary to the spirit of this most excellent of Counties. We have seen much in the last year to cheer us and to remind us of the resilience of Lincolnshire.

Although it often feels that Covid and its effects have come to dominate all our affairs, it is not difficult to remember that agriculture and indeed all rural and land-based industries already faced a period of unprecedented change and challenge: Brexit; new agricultural and environmental policies; trade arrangements and agreements with the EU and the wider world; tenancy reform; changes to animal welfare legislation; and very much more besides.

The CLA has, arguably, never had such a vital and important role as it does today in fighting to promote and protect its members’ interests. It has an enormous wealth of knowledge and expertise that lend great weight to its various campaigns to promote the rural economy in the context of that ominous but by no means exhaustive list above.

It is not just the CLA’s campaigning role that is so important. The dissemination of its expertise to its members is particularly important at this time and the programme of webinars that the CLA has initiated has been varied and really excellent throughout the pandemic. The feedback on these has been very positive and, if you have not yet done so, I would urge you to sign up to any that might interest you without delay. They are an excellent substitute to meeting in person.

Although our AGM will again take place virtually this year, we very much hope that we will be able to meet on Tuesday 21 September for our much anticipated but oft-postponed tour of the Dyson farming business. I am very grateful for their continued support and patience.

I very much look forward to seeing as many of you as possible then and, if not, then at least in person under a CLA banner some time in 2022.

CLA Norfolk branch

Chair’s Report 2021

Gavin Lane

As I write this in May, we are at the end of another very peculiar pattern of weather where the extent of normal weather patterns seems extinct. A very wet autumn (in some cases wetter than the previous very wet 2019) followed by a very dry and cold March and April followed by a very wet and cold May. Crops look well all things considered, the grass has finally started to grow, all commodity prices are high and Covid restrictions are gradually easing. It is difficult to paint a pessimistic picture for the rural economy at present but we have to be careful that today’s optimism doesn’t cloud our judgement of the very real challenges ahead.

Just recently, we have seen local MP, Liz Truss, embark on trade negotiations to get a free trade deal with Australia. It is important that, having left the EU, we take advantage of our new responsibilities on forging our own trade deals. However, the CLA, in common with most rural based organisations, understand that this cannot be at the cost of lowering welfare and environmental standards. It is important that we are able to trade with any other country with terms which are equitable and fair to both sides.

George Eustace’s launch of the Path to Sustainable Farming in November was described most succinctly by agronomist Sarah Bell as “an announcement of announcements”. We are still left with a clear plan of the reduction to the Basic Payment Scheme payments starting this year but, frustratingly, with piecemeal detail of the new Sustainable Farming Incentive and the future Environmental Land Management scheme. DEFRA have launched a blog on their Future Farming website (www.defrafarming.blog.gov.uk) which has started to give some details to the announcements during this year and we hope that the process of getting information out is swift enough to allow our businesses time to plan. We now have the basis for the Sustainable Farming Incentive and hopefully many members will be involved in the pilot scheme. For other members, the first details of the exit scheme from the industry may provide an opportunity for succession planning. Please do get in contact with the CLA if you would like more help or information.

Those of us with tourism activities on our land have a second bonanza summer approaching which will no doubt bring record numbers to holiday in our county. The benefits to our members’ businesses have to be weighed up against the potential costs and the CLA has highlighted the issues associated with public access, biodiversity delivery and responsibilities on parking and litter. It is the intention of the CLA to focus on access nationally during 2021 to help provide guidance to both members and Government on this tricky balance between the rights and responsibilities of both parties.

I would like to thank Tom Leicester for his time as the Chair of the Norfolk CLA committee and for generously letting the CLA use Holkham during this time. Charlie McNicol has stepped into the position of Vice-Chair and will be known to many of you through his work in managing the Stody Estate. We are ably assisted by the whole of the CLA East team and it is worth reminding all members that these advisers are there to help you all.

We will all face our own personal challenges with the transition away from BPS. The personal stress of running a farming business through these changing and challenging times can be extreme. I would therefore like to draw attention to the work of YANA (You Are Not Alone) which offer rural mental health support (www.yanahelp.org). We are extremely fortunate to this amazing charity in Norfolk.

CLA Northamptonshire branch

Chair’s Report 2021

Mark Henderson

Chairman’s reports in recent years have been dominated by the theme of uncertainty and I’m afraid that not much seems to have changed in this regard. Perhaps that has always been the case! The first part of 2021 has seen us facing many of the same challenges as last year, with the battle against Covid-19 continuing to disrupt life and business to an extreme that many of us will never have experienced. Let’s hope that the various vaccines really are the light at the end of the tunnel.

We have now moved on from last year’s transition period and I imagine many are grateful for the nature of the Deal reached at the end of 2020. A No Deal scenario would have had far reaching and catastrophic consequences for the farming sector, so the Free Trade Agreement between the UK and the EU was a welcome outcome. Time will tell how the working arrangements actually play out and there will inevitably be hidden pitfalls but at least the starting point is not as painful as it could have been.

Closer to home, we now have The Agriculture Act to get to grips with. The Act received royal assent towards the end of last year and the CLA were able to influence many aspects which eventually passed into law. Having said that, there is much still to work through in terms of implementation on the ground and I sincerely hope that the drafting of the Act translates into something which provides the right outcomes for farmers and land managers.

Much of the future financial support will be provided through the new Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS) but, sadly, this still seems more than a little way off and, bearing in mind BPS payments start to reduce this year, it does make planning and taking business decisions much more difficult.

I still feel very strongly, however, that members of the rural community should have an eye on the medium to long term, despite the immediate challenges ahead, and do their best to embrace the future with positivity and enthusiasm. Rural communities have already demonstrated how they can adapt and seize opportunities from the restrictions we have found ourselves constrained by. It is also encouraging to see that the public have really started to see the value of rural areas as a place to both live and work.

One thing that has continued to impress me in recent years is the significance of the role the CLA plays in supporting its members. The CLA continues to lobby and influence the development of farming and environmental land management policy, to the extent that much of what is debated and proposed very often finds its way into what eventually goes through Parliament. This, in turn, will hopefully support and benefit all rural businesses.

The months ahead remain challenging as there continues to be much on the agenda to consider, debate and influence. The Northamptonshire Committee always welcomes the views of members and anyone with particular concerns or comments that they would like to raise is welcome to contact the committee directly or the CLA Regional Office. Likewise, if anyone would like to join the Committee, please do make yourself known.

Finally, may I take this opportunity to thank the Northamptonshire Committee and all the staff at the Regional Office for their hard work and support this year and throughout my term as Chairman. Three years as Chair has flown by and whilst the latter part of my stint has largely been carried out in the virtual world of Zoom, it has, nevertheless, been a great honour and privilege.

CLA Nottinghamshire branch

Chair’s Report 2021

Nick Brown

When I wrote my Chairman’s report for 2020, last August, I had expected that the 2021 report would be in preparation for an AGM in person and with life getting back to some kind of normality. However the second wave in the autumn and several lockdowns through the autumn and winter mean that we are only now coming out of our enforced hibernation – we all now know how dormice must feel in Spring!

Covid 19 continues to have a profound effect on all our lives: sadly it continues to result in tragic loss or weeks and months of severe illness and we still do not know the lasting effect on our economy. Whilst many of our agricultural businesses have been relatively unaffected by the restrictions (after all farmers are good at self-isolating, by spending a whole day in a tractor cab) those of you with commercial businesses which rely on the hospitality industry will have seen a dramatic fall in income, especially those involved in weddings.

However the vaccination programme has given us a hope that we can return to some kind of normality soon, even if all restrictions aren’t lifted on 21st June, in time for our virtual AGM.

For many with farming businesses the 2020 harvest will have been testing, not least because of the changes which had to be made to cropping plans following the very wet weather in autumn 2019. No doubt this has had a knock on effect on subsequent cropping, but thankfully conditions for establishing crops has been kinder over the last 6 months. That said we still seem to have a weather pattern which oscillates between cold and/or wet and warm hot and/or dry. It seems crazy that during the last week in May we were struggling to reach daytime temperatures above 10o C and yet this weekend looks set to be high 20s. May was also one of the wettest on record and by the middle of the month we had recorded more rain than the 40 year average for the whole of the month.

We do have a little more clarity on the direction of travel for agricultural policy, with the Agriculture Act being passed, although probably not enough to allow businesses to plan fully. Many of businesses have entered Countryside Stewardship, in order to prepare for the new way of receiving support, but one thing is clear – ELMS is not a replacement for BPS and our income is going to shrink unless we can find new ways of generating it. In turn this will lead to the need to look at cost savings to reduce the impact on margins, with the less profitable land being put into schemes and low inputs options being explored. In many ways this is an exciting time for those in the agricultural world and we try and use new technologies, together with some old fashioned methods to try and maintain profitable farming whilst continuing to deliver and enhancing public goods, such as clean water, healthy soils and biodiversity.

A lot of emphasis has been placed on possible trade deals, especially with Australia and the likely impact on our agricultural industry. First and foremost we must protect our high welfare and environmental standards. We must also continue to stress to the consumer that buying local, sustainable grown produce is best for all. However I do think we should not be drawn into an argument where farmers can be viewed as seeking protection from legitimate competition just to protect our agricultural industry.

It was hugely disappointing that we were unable to hold our AGM at Dyson farms last June but we will hopefully all be able to visit this fascinating farm in September.

As ever all of this was only possible because of the work carried out by the CLA East team. In September it was a pleasure to send congratulations, on behalf of all Notts members, to Cath on the birth of her daughter. Nick Sandford has provided excellent, expert advice whilst Cath has been on maternity leave. We have also welcomed Alison Provis as our new rural surveyor. The support provided by the rest of the team has been outstanding and kept our organisation functioning and able to offer vital information and advice to all our members during these testing times.

CLA Suffolk branch

Chair’s Report 2021

James Pearson

If we all thought 2019 was a rollercoaster of a year, it will be regarded largely insignificant in comparison to 2020, which will go down in history as being one of the most disruptive years on record, with what seems to be a long list of political and natural issues to contend with.

Although our departure from Europe was somewhat diluted in 2020, the result of the final Brexit negotiations has cemented the transition and we must now look for opportunities which may arise from greater access to new markets and by utilising our own domestic market. Working within the fresh produce sector, I have had first-hand experience of the increased red tape in importing and exporting to and from the EU from 1st January, consequently the price of these commodities has already increased and therefore we are already seeing benefit to our domestic market, however, is remains to be seen if this will result is a long-term benefit for trade.

For 2021, The Agricultural Bill should now be in the forefront of our minds, as we draw closer to the transition away from BPS. The great work that the CLA have done on this is well documented they as always have plenty of guidance surrounding this subject if the membership requires advise during this period.

On a local level, the planned branch AGM and visit scheduled for June 2020 to the Shadwell Estate had to be cancelled due to the pandemic, and the rescheduled visit at Helmingham Hall has moved to the autumn and we hope by then we will be in better state of normality to enjoy the visit.

As many of you will be aware, unfortunately the Suffolk Show has been cancelled for 2021, however we very much look forward to 2022, when we can resume with the usual CLA facilities and hospitality for the membership and guests over the full 2 days of the show.

Aside from the obvious financial implications of the COVID 19 pandemic, its has altered the way in which we would normally go about our work, and I would like to thank the regional and national CLA teams and the Suffolk committee members for their hard work in ensuring work behind the scenes and by utilising video conferencing, committee meetings and council meetings have gone ahead as planned, albeit not in person.

As a final note, I would like to thank my predecessor Ben Crossman for work a chairman over the last 2 years and I am pleased that he has agreed to remain on the committee, as his knowledge and experience is valuable to the Suffolk branch. 2021 and beyond is clearly going to be challenging, however as we start to see light at the end of the tunnel, I am optimistic that there will be new opportunities for us across the rural sector.

Become a member

There has never been a more important time to benefit from being a member of the CLA: if you are not already part of our organisation contact the regional office on 01638 590429 or email us to find out more.

Watch

A CLA East seminar held on the topic of carbon accounting for land managers.