RURAL CRAFTS will be more profitable to the rural economy than farming within 10 to 15 years, the Daily Telegraph reports.

The rural skills could eventually exceed the contribution of farming, forestry and mining put together, according to a report carried out for the Countryside Agency.

The report is the first into the rural crafts industry for 80 years, and it found the industry to have very good prospects as its products are now regarded as high-status items.
  
The heritage building sector alone was found to be worth £2bn a year.

The total number of rural craft workers – including dry stone wallers, flint workers, earth wallers, blacksmiths, timber framers and greenwood workers – currently number between 250,000 and 500,000.

Ted Collins, the author of the report, told the Daily Telegraph: “The crafts sector appears to be in a better state of health than we thought at the start of the study.”

Margaret Clark, the director of the Countryside Agency, said: “Social and economic change has transformed rural communities and economies and, with them, the role of traditional crafts.”