non-agricultural rural businesses on the up, but farmers suffer
BUSINESS confidence in the
non-farming rural sector is growing, proving the countryside is
starting to emerge from the recession, says the CLA in the North.
The results of the latest CLA/Smiths Gore Rural Economy Index (REI)
show that optimism for non-agricultural rural businesses is up with
sales, profits, investment and employment expected to be higher in
2013. CLA North Regional Director Dorothy Fairburn said:- "The
outlook from the latest REI is positive for non-agricultural
businesses. However, 55% of rural businesses that use lending report
that borrowing rates have worsened, which of course could slow their
economic recovery. In contrast, confidence and sales in the
agricultural sector are significantly down on the start of this year
due to adverse weather conditions."
Rupert Clark of Smiths Gore said:- "There has been a shift in
the market with a fall in sales and profitability for many farming
businesses because dreadful weather during 2012 affected the harvest
and caused difficulties for next year's crops. If the weather in
2013 improves, we expect to see an increase in agricultural
confidence as the underlying market fundamentals, of price and
demand, are strong."
Looking at rural businesses excluding agriculture in Quarter 3, 45%
reported higher sales over the past 6 months; up from 31% in the
previous quarter; 56% reported higher business optimism for the next
12 months; up from just 20% in the previous quarter, and 48%
predicted higher profitability over the next 12 months; that is up
from 26% in the previous quarter.
Despite the rural economy showing signs of recovery, the impact of
this year's bad weather on agriculture was plain to see in the
figures from Quarter 3, with 47% of agricultural business predicting
a drop in profitability over the next 12 months; up from 28% in the
previous quarter; 21% reported lower sales over the past 6 months;
again that is up from 12% in the previous quarter; and 31% expected
to make a lower investment in their business over the next 12
months; up from 20% in the previous quarter.
security, warns CLA in bid to thwart farm thefts
THE CLA in the North is
warning farmers and rural landowners to review their security
arrangements in a bid to reduce thefts of equipment and vehicles
from farms in the region. According to CLA North Regional
Director Dorothy Fairburn, a combination of dark nights and economic
uncertainty is a recipe for an increase in rural crime.
She said:- "At this time of year, with its short days and long
nights, there is always an increase in countryside crime. With the
added catalysts of a fragile economy and belt-tightening measures
for many families this year, we are already starting to see a swell
of rural criminal offences such as theft and fly-tipping. Rural
areas can provide rich and easy pickings. Crime in rural areas takes
many forms and is made easier for the perpetrator by the relative
isolation of homes and businesses, a maze of county lanes
unmonitored by CCTV, lack of street lighting, miles of legal public
access close to properties and low visible police presence."
The CLA is advising farmers and landowners to take simple steps to
protect themselves and their property such as not leaving tools
lying around, ensuring keys are removed from vehicles and that sheds
and other outbuildings are properly secured. Rural residents off the
mains gas supply grid, who rely on heating oil are also being urged
to protect their supplies by install locks on tank filler/vent caps
and checking tank levels on a regular basis to ensure fuel is not
being siphoned off.
Miss Fairburn added:- "We are urging our members to have a
look around their premises with a thief's eye, to identify
vulnerable spots and areas in permanent darkness. Anyone who needs
further help should contact the crime prevention officer at their
local police station or talk to a specialist security company. And
last but by no means least - if you see a crime, report it."