The Canadian poet Brian Brett said that “farming is a profession of hope”, and it’s a good thing that this is the case.
Landowners and rural businesses have endured so much in recent years that many of us have forgotten what certainty feels like. The Covid-19 pandemic has now morphed into new crises in the energy market, haulage industry and labour markets – all amid the ever-present backdrop of climate change and biodiversity decline.
It requires a leap of faith to say that better days will come, but it’s a leap I am willing to take
As I take over the CLA presidency, I believe our sector can provide many of the answers to a number of our society’s most profound questions. How can our rural businesses thrive? How can we create prosperity and good jobs? How can we fight back against environmental disaster? How can we best feed an ever-growing population? This edition of Land & Business looks at some of these questions in detail, and for the next two years I will do everything I can to help us find answers, and to ensure the government and the public support us in doing so.
I am, at heart, a Cotswold farmer – a fact that is reflected in some of the articles I have commissioned in guest editing this month’s magazine. However, in my time working with the CLA, I have travelled the whole of England and Wales, meeting farmers, landowners and rural business owners, and every time I have done so I have come away inspired.
We are an entrepreneurial, hardworking and socially conscious sector that is brimming with the potential to make a huge difference at a local and national level
This is the philosophy that underpins our Rural Powerhouse campaign, which is already doing so much to change the way government, politicians and journalists see us.
The creation of the new Ministry for Levelling Up under the leadership of former Defra Secretary Michael Gove is a huge opportunity to take our campaign to the next level, and this is an immediate focus for us. I am, of course, here for each and every one of our members to represent you as best I can.
Please keep in touch, come to our events, engage with our surveys and write to us with your thoughts and experiences. It all helps us to better understand your priorities, allowing us to better advise our members while strengthening our hand with government. We are a membership organisation, and all of us are better off when we work together.
Finally, I must thank our outgoing President Mark Bridgeman for his immense commitment and contribution to this Association and his friendship with me during my time as his deputy. We all owe him a huge debt of gratitude, particularly over this time of constant Zoom meetings, and we wish him and his family the very best for the future.