From the editor: Rural business should be encouraged, not punished

Rural DevelopmentBrexit

Does the Government have a clue about the pressures farmers and other rural businesses face?


That is a question that must be asked as it emerges some rural enterprises, such as livestock marts, livery yards and holiday cottages, could face a sixfold increase in business rates from April 1 this year.


It is a decision which strikes at the heart of the rural business community and could potentially punish those who have sought to diversify their offering in an era of reduced on-farm margins.


Scores of farmers across England have established livery yards as part of their business, while others have utilised old buildings made redundant by the growing scale of agriculture, and turned them in to holiday accommodation.


It seems, however, that the Government will undermine their attempts to make a profit by hiking the rates that govern these enterprises.


Many livestock marts are also looking on nervously to discern how the rates will affect them. All marts serve a commercial and social function for their local farming communities, but the more rural ones really are the lynchpins for farmers often cut adrift from an increasingly urban-centric world.


And here is the crux of the matter; by introducing business rate changes which punitively charge those in rural constituencies, the Government is reinforcing the notion that it does not care about, nor understand, the challenges faced by many outside of the large towns and cities.


You would have thought that after Brexit, which was, in part, fuelled by a non-metrpolitan public which had grown tired of the Westminster-elite, they would have learned that the concerns of the provinces should be heeded. With this decision, it appears they have not.


Farmers and rural businesses face a range of challenges when it comes to profitability, but their drive and determination to make a living from the countryside is never in doubt. It is just a shame that those in charge of the UK seem to have little desire to create a commercial environment which facilitates growth in those areas.


And finally...


The death of Brenda Sutcliffe marks the end of an era for the organophosphate campaigners. She was an intelligent and principled women who deserved respect across the industry for what she set out to achieve.

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