House of parliament(c) WestEnd61/REX

Landowners have urged parliamentary candidates to commit to supporting rural businesses by signing a Pledge for a Thriving Countryside ahead of the general election.

The Country Land and Business Association launched the pledge ahead of a countryside hustings event in London on Wednesday (4 March).

See also: Farming is vital election issue, says NFU

“The CLA pledge encourages candidates across England and Wales to recognise their responsibility to support those who live and work in the countryside.”
Henry Robinson, CLA president 

The event will see Defra secretary Liz Truss debate rural issues with shadow farm minister Huw Irranca-Davies and Liberal Democrat Lord Redesdale.

Chaired by BBC Radio 4 Farming Today’s Charlotte Smith, the event provides a forum for CLA members to quiz politicians on agriculture and rural issues.

CLA president Henry Robinson said: “Through our pledge we are asking general election candidates to commit to action in support of rural businesses if they are elected to parliament.”

He added: “As well as making a significant contribution to the country’s GDP, thriving businesses are central to maintaining vibrant communities in the countryside.

“Too often we see government policy ignore rural businesses and the CLA pledge encourages candidates across England and Wales to recognise their responsibility to support those who live and work in the countryside.”

Signatories to the pledge so far include Ms Truss, Liberal Democrat president Tim Farron, Labour parliamentary candidate John Bateson and Ukip candidate Paul Abbott.