A self-propelled John Deere sprayer working in a field of Spring Barley behind a field of sheep© Tim Scrivener

A more resilient agricultural sector must be a top priority for the next government, say landowners and rural business leaders.

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) made the call as it set out five rural priorities for politicians ahead of the general election on 8 June.

CLA president Ross Murray said: “Every candidate seeking election to a rural constituency should be able to demonstrate how they will stand up for farming and the countryside.”

See also: Brexit is key election issue, say farm leaders

The CLA says its five priorities are crucial to help shape the future of the rural economy and its communities.

Those priorities are:

  • Delivering a Brexit that works for the countryside
  • Creating the homes rural areas need
  • Implementing a simpler, more cost-effective planning system that encourages investment
  • Ending the rural digital divide
  • Applying a tax regime which encourages, rather than discriminates against rural business

Mr Murray said the CLA was encouraging its members to get out and raise these priorities with parliamentary candidates during the election campaign.

He added: “They must understand why the countryside matters and that rural communities expect the next government to face up to the big challenges.”

These challenges included how to support farming and the environment once the UK is no longer part of the Common Agricultural Policy, said Mr Murray.

Housing

It was also important to be encouraging more small-scale housing developments by making better use of existing buildings and relaxing the planning system to alleviate the rural housing shortage.

Delivering universal 4G mobile coverage was essential to modern rural life, he added.

“By treating diversified rural businesses as single businesses for tax purposes will end the discrimination they currently face and allow for growth and better productivity.

“We will be out throughout the campaign, speaking up for rural businesses.

“But it is also vital that our members challenge candidates to demonstrate their commitment to standing up for farming and the countryside in Parliament and how they intend to make a difference.”