Needless to say, most of us will be glad to see the back of 2020, with what started as a challenging year weather-wise with farmers once again at the mercy of the extreme and changeable weather with significant flooding, a delay in Brexit negotiations (again) and then further delays as a result of the Covid pandemic.
As the year comes to a close we are beginning to see the future of agricultural policy take shape. But, negotiations over the future of trade are still in the air.
The unseasonal hot weather in spring and the long dry summer threatened drought and resulted in poor yields and a shortage of straw, topped off by a number of wildfires. October and November started and finished in the rain, with December so far not getting much drier.
An invisible virus
No one could have predicted that 2020 would have us all battling an invisible virus and as the country closed down in March, the CLA staff set up desks at home and the Association quickly got to work disseminating the guidelines that Government was issuing and sharing the information with our members via its Covid webpage.
We continually lobbied Government to ensure our members' businesses were appropriately supported. We campaigned when there was the threat of farm labour shortages just as harvest was beginning, the closure of the hospitality sector during peak season and for the awareness of the public when it comes to the Countryside Code. We continued to do this as a second lockdown began on 5 November. Our advisory team was on hand to deal with a myriad of enquiries relating to furlough of staff, holiday lets, funding and grant support, tenant rent deferrals amongst many others.
The challenges members have faced during Covid-19 have piled on top of what was already threatening to be an uncertain year, but the sector and CLA members have, in the large part, held up spectacularly. For any members who are unsure of the immediate impact they may face for their rural businesses, the ‘Brexit: Getting Rural Business Ready’ paper is available on the CLA Brexit Hub.
This year has demonstrated the incredible strength and resilience of the rural sector both in their own businesses but also in supporting the rural communities.
We can only hope that 2021 is a more settled year, but for now, you can remain confident that the CLA is doing everything it can, to protect your business.