Boost for rural sector is welcome news - CLA survey

Farming businesses are looking forward to a profitable 2014 with expectations sales and profits will be higher than the previous 12 months, according to the Country Land and Business Association's latest survey.

The rural economy index (REI), produced with surveyors Smiths Gore, reports that financial growth has spread from non-farming to the farming sector during the final third of 2013. More farming businesses have reported rising rather than falling sales for the first time in a year.

Agricultural businesses expect profitability to be higher in 2014, the first time this has been recorded since the second quarter of 2012.

Rural businesses, property and tourism enterprises, reported a more positive outlook with farm businesses expecting to employ the same number of people as last year.

The CLA's east regional director, Nicola Currie said: 'It is good news that recovery in the rural economy is now firmly rooted and we can look forward to 2014 with greater confidence. For most farming businesses, the pessimism of the last year has gone, and they are now looking forward to higher sales and profits in the next year.

'This is welcome news for the eastern region's rural sector.'

'In order to keep confidence high and to drive the rural economy forwards, the CLA believes the government needs to implement the MacDonald task force recommendations fully. It also needs to put in place a broadband infrastructure that is effective, affordable and available to all. The economic health of rural communities and their businesses is being damaged by exasperatingly slow broadband that leaves them unable to compete.'

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