The CLA View

The latest column from CLA East Acting Director Mark Riches
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At the agricultural shows I have visited so far this summer a significant amount of our time has been spent discussing news of the imminent general election.

As an organisation that represents the interests of farmers, landowners and rural businesses across England and Wales our first job once the election was called was to consider what this announcement would mean for our members. Some key points to note are:

  • The rollout of SFI in England will continue unabated.
  • The recently announced Permitted Development Rights (PDR) for farmers have been formalised and will be unaffected.
  • The Renters Reform Bill will not proceed, but the issue will now likely be a priority for any future government. This will mean the fight to protect private property rights starts again.

Of course, for many, a general election just causes further uncertainty. Under the auspices of the CLA’s Rural Powerhouse campaign, however, we have been actively working to influence the policy landscape ahead of this election for years. As a result, we are in a strong position to influence all the major parties in our pursuit of a robust and ambitious plan for the rural economy.

Our ‘missions’, published in February, were designed to influence parties beginning to pull together their manifestos. We know that they have gone down very well and we have had very good engagement from key figures across the board.

Our candidate packs – full of vital information for any candidate seeking to understand and represent the countryside – are being distributed to candidates across the country. Engagement with these candidates continues with a variety of farm visits and briefings. I have met with many over the last few weeks.

We need to speak to as many candidates as possible as it is vitally important that they understand the unique challenges facing the rural economy. If you know candidates in your own area, I would encourage you to invite them to visit your farm or rural business. It is so much more impactful if candidates can get out and about and see for themselves the issues facing the rural economy.

At the CLA, we are hugely ambitious for our community, its economy and way of life. Since the inception of our Rural Powerhouse campaign we have been leading the conversation about how to grow the economy, create good jobs, strengthen our community and protect our environment. This is our opportunity to take that conversation to the next level, and I am determined we seize it.