Promising year ahead for land-based sector
looks promising for the land-based sector. Rural commentator
gathers predictions from
leading industry figures.
Research last year indicated that Kent’s rural sector has a net
asset base of £5.4 billion, which would place it 57th in the FTSE
Getting on for 85% of the county is officially designated rural,
250,000 hectares of which is farmland.
Against this background, pressures from climate change and
population growth mean that land usage, environmental issues and
food production will become ever more important during 2013.
The county’s rural sector needs to be strong, vibrant and
resilient. Individuals who have key roles in the sector are largely
Hadlow College’s finance director Mark Lumsdon-Taylor, a recent
winner of the ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England
and Wales) national Finance for the Future award, has said: “First
of all, we need greater appreciation of the contribution Kent’s
rural sector plays in the county’s economy.
"Secondly, we must increase awareness of the ways in which
buying regionally-produced food and services safeguards jobs and
benefits the economy.
“Thirdly, we need the banks to revitalise and lend more to
business while at the same time assisting entrepreneurs. SMEs set
up to fill niches in times of recession have above-average chance
Douglas Jackson heads AG Advisory, which provides information
and advice for landowners, farmers, related business services and
He believes the challenges faced by farmers and landowners
afford considerable potential for growth but demand careful
strategic risk management.
“The opportunities for individuals to open small niche
businesses will also expand but, in both cases, professional advice
and operational control will be essential factors.”
According to George Jessel, chairman of Kent County Agricultural
Society, 2013 will be a year of opportunity.
“Farmers now need to be highly organised to take advantage of
the current technology in farming practices.
"New developments in satellite systems can offer greater
efficiency to fieldwork – and crop commodity prices are at an
Similar sentiments are expressed by James Smith, chairman of
Kent NFU. “The prospect for jobs and growth in the rural sector has
never been better.”
These largely upbeat predictions are important to the county for
Food, and our ability to provide security of supply, will climb
higher up the agenda and the fact that commentators are generally
optimistic about farming is encouraging.
A buoyant rural industry will directly benefit Kent’s exchequer
while also increasing jobs. It would be unwise to overlook that our
landscape is largely managed by farmers with obvious knock-on
benefits for the tourist industry.
When times are tough, thinking regional, county and local surely