If Kent’s rural sector was a company it would be ranked 57th in the FTSE 100, according to a report.
The rural economy in Kent is worth £5.4bn, the first annual report from Rural PLC (Kent) found.
The study, which looked at the contribution of agriculture to the economy of Kent, also found that there was not enough investment in the infrastructure, facilities and marketing of farming.
“The food chain needs to change fundamentally,” said Mike Bax, chairman of Rural PLC (Kent).
“Currently, the downstream end exerts far more influence and is better invested than the upstream end represented by the producer. This is not consistent with other industry sectors and we need to turn this round.”
The recommendations in the report include:
•The establishment of a food investment bank which will do away with the need for farmers to chase grants
•The need for additional and new forms of financing for farmers and growers
•The return on capital expenditure in the sector needs to increase from 2%
•Encourage more people to choose a career in the sector at all academic levels and support with education and training
•Provide help to rural entrepreneurs.