The year ahead looks brighter for West Norfolk farming businesses with profits tipped to grow, according to the Country Land and Business Association’s latest Rural Economy Index.
A survey carried out in conjunction with rural surveyors Smiths Gore found that financial growth has spread from non-farming businesses to the farming sector during the final third of 2013, with more farming businesses reporting rising rather than falling sales for the first time in a year.
Rural businesses, such as property and tourism enterprises, reported a more positive outlook with farm businesses expecting to employ the same number of people as last year, while nine per cent more non-agricultural businesses now expect to employ more people.
CLA East Regional Director Nicola Currie said: “It is good news that recovery in the rural economy is now firmly rooted and we can look forward to 2014 with greater confidence.
“For most farming businesses, the pessimism of the last year has gone, and they are now looking forward to higher sales and profits in the next year.
“This is welcome news for the eastern region’s rural sector, which had seemed in the doldrums at times during 2013 with confidence hit by bad weather, poor harvests and the rising price of livestock feed. However, the full impact of the latest flooding in coastal areas has yet to be accounted for.”
She also said that it was important for the government to implement red tape reduction recommended last year following a commissioned report and that an effective broadband infrastructure was vital for rural areas.
“The economic health of rural communities and their businesses is being damaged by exasperatingly slow broadband that leaves them unable to compete. Broadband is as vital as water, electricity and gas and should be looked on as the fourth utility, and for rural businesses to flourish more progress needs to made.
“The CLA is very concerned that despite significant funding many rural areas are still going to be left without workable Broadband after 2015, and, as a result, we will continue to lobby Government for more support for connectivity to rural areas.”