03 October 2019

Ben Underwood looks ahead to 2019

I was out visiting a member earlier this week and within 20 minutes of talking through their business I could identify a number of areas where the CLA has made a real tangible difference.

They had converted two old farm buildings into residential lettings using the permitted development rights introduced directly as a result of CLA policy and lobbying.  The other diversified interests on the holding would also have struggled to come to fruition had it not been the CLA’s tireless work on promoting the importance of an ‘enabling’ planning system in rural areas.  

Whilst the picture is certainly not complete, the broadband coverage to the site had improved, something the CLA has lead the way on. They continue to receive full BPS payments for the next two years which has allowed them more time to assess the business changes required, a key CLA ask throughout the on-going Brexit discussions. Indeed, the CLA’s comprehensive and long-term thinking on post Brexit funding into the rural economy has really resonated with Government and Treasury as we head towards a payments for public goods model.

We also discussed Brexit and farming and I reiterated that a red-line for the CLA is that the Government cannot allow the import of products that undermine our farmers who will be unable to compete with cheaper low-standard imports. With a daughter keen to take on the holding in the future I was able to talk through all the intricate work the CLA is doing on capital taxation and promoting the value of long-term landownership.

Ultimately, landowners and farmers are best placed to deliver on so many of the Governments key objectives going forward. From the supply of nutritious food, to climate change mitigation and biodiversity delivery, the CLA will be at the forefront of ensuring members’ businesses can thrive and grow with the opportunities presented.

From November I will begin a role as Programme Director for the CLA based in London. I am sure you will welcome Cath Crowther as the new CLA East Regional Director when she begins the role next month.