Unlocking the rural economy

With a general election on the horizon, the Midlands region of the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) has been increasing their political engagement to ensure that the full potential of rural communities can be unlocked and their voices are heard
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We know that the rural economy is 19% less productive than the national average. The next government needs to understand that £43bn could be added to the country’s economy by closing this gap.

We have been meeting MPs and Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPCs) to discuss the important issues facing farmers and landowners, as well as highlighting the challenges and opportunities that they face.

One of the main topics that has been discussed and is at the forefront of many farmers minds is the importance of supporting profitable and sustainable farming. There isn’t a simple answer and it certainly isn’t a case of one size fits all. A fine balance needs to be struck that doesn’t compromise food production or the environment.

Closely following this is the need for a planning system specifically designed for rural communities. So many farm businesses are having to diversify to ensure that they remain viable but this is often hindered by local planning systems surrounding them in red tape making it hard work, if not impossible to complete.

The next government has the opportunity to unleash the potential of the rural economy and as a continuation of our Rural Powerhouse Campaign, the CLA have launched six ‘missions’ designed to help political parties understand what is necessary to achieve this.

  • Mission 1 – Profitable and sustainable farming
  • Mission 2 – Affordable homes in every community
  • Mission 3 – Tackling rural crime
  • Mission 4 – Delivering economic growth in rural areas
  • Mission 5 – Responsible access for all
  • Mission 6 – A fully connected countryside

The CLA represents over 26,000 rural business owners and over 10 million acres of land in England and Wales. Our average member owns and manages approximately 200 acres.

Traditionally, these have been small family farms but they are becoming increasingly diversified rural businesses involved in tourism, producing and supplying renewable energy, building homes, leasing office space and a wide variety of other activities that are vital to the local economy.

Farmers and landowners are working hard to grow their businesses whilst helping to sustain the community they are living and working in. Emphasising the role our members play in solving some of the issues within the region has been really important when speaking with MPs and PPCs, whether that be by providing jobs and homes or helping to clear roads of snow in the winter.

The incoming government will need to match the ambition of rural communities and businesses who are determined to sustain, develop and grow their businesses.

You can read more about our missions on the Rural Powerhouse page.

Rural Powerhouse