4 June 1999

NE rural forum assesses slump

BUSINESS leaders from across the north-east met yesterday in York yesterday (Thu) to discuss the impact that the slump in British agriculture is having on the wider rural economy.

Representatives from rural-based businesses, including banks, machinery dealers and auctioneers, met regional NFU leaders for a rural summit.

Roland Harris, chief executive of the York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, said businesses, particularly in rural market towns, had been hit particularly hard.

The aim of the summit, he added, was to highlight the problems affecting the rural economy and to identify what could be done to help by reducing the burden on businesses.

Summit chairman Kevin Littleboy, who farms near Thirsk, North Yorks, said: "The crisis in the allied trades has deepened and moved quicker than we had anticipated. We are also beginning to get bankruptcies in the farming world.

" I know three farmers personally in Yorkshire who have gone bankrupt since we last examined the issues in August." &#42