Enabling the rural economy to grow is absolutely vital to the economic success of Devon – that was the message CLA South West Director, John Mortimer, delivered to the Prime Minister, David Cameron, at the North Devon Show today (Wednesday 7 August).
CLA Asks P.M. to Continue Support for Rural Businesses
Mr Cameron accompanied Defra Secretary of State, Owen Paterson, to the show at Umberleigh, near Barnstable where the Minister told CLA and NFU representatives that Farmers were the backbone of Britain, producing over 50% of the food we eat and employing over half a million people.
"We were delighted that they both made the time to come to North Devon and demonstrate that they are keen supporters of our South West farming industry, but we also pressed home the point that the new Local Enterprise Partnerships – such as the Heart of the South West LEP – have an absolutely critical part to play in meeting the Government's ambition to boost the rural economy of this area and that they can only achieve this if they are fully engaged with all aspects rural businesses."
Mr Mortimer said the PM recognised the important contribution rural businesses made to the overall economy of the county and both he and the Secretary of State had re-affirmed their commitment to eradicating bovine TB by taking measures to tackle the disease in both domestic animals and wildlife.
Secretary of State Owen Paterson said: "I know just how tough recent years have been for many farmers. Bovine TB in particular has had a devastating impact on rural communities. That's why this government has put in place a plan to rid England of the disease using every means possible.
"I want to support a thriving rural economy. As part of that I held a summit about how we can create greater resilience for the farming industry. I believe we should be doing everything we can to support farming both now and in future."
Mr Mortimer said he had also raised the issue of the difficulties faced by both farmers and other rural businesses struggling to manage cash flow problems.
"Our own CLA/ Smiths Gore Rural Economy Index clearly shows that the rural economy is continuing to suffer. For farming, bad weather, poor harvests and the rising costs of livestock feed have all played a part, but there was also an unexpected fall in the profitability of non-agricultural businesses in rural areas.
"All of our rural businesses need to know that their banks will stand by them through these difficult times and I am pleased to report that both Mr Cameron and Mr Paterson said they were in regular discussions with the major banks and that their expectation was that the High Street banks should indeed stick with – and support - their customers," said Mr Mortimer.
CLA MEDIA CONTACTS:
For further information, or to arrange an interview, please contact Paul Millard, CLA SW Communications Manager on 07831 674345 or John Mortimer CLA SW Director on 01249 700200.
Follow CLA SW on twitter: @CLAsouthwest
Follow CLA SW Director, John Mortimer: @johnmortimercla