A vision for the rural economy.

On February 16, 2016, in General, The Economy, The Environment, by Lyndon-Farnham

The rural economy has a major impact on the landscape and environment of the Island providing a real sense of place and purpose. It is essential that our vision for the countryside provides rural businesses with stability and certainty. Our vision must recognise the economic, environmental and social importance of the sector whilst encouraging businesses to develop and prosper.

The 2005 Rural Economy Strategy saw a change in how Jersey’s agricultural industry was supported: a move away from direct crop support payments to single area payments allowing the industry to respond to market forces without government intervention.

It also introduced two policies which further allowed the industry to decide how to invest; the Rural Initiative Scheme and the Countryside Renewal Scheme. These schemes have allowed businesses to identify key areas for investment in business/productivity gains and environmental improvements.

Jersey’s agricultural support mirrors the European Union through an area-based payment system to provide a more even playing field with neighbouring competitors in local and export markets. Signals from Europe suggest subsidies will be phased out in the medium term.  Consequently, we need to evaluate the total support package available to our industry in order to ensure that it is providing the right type of backing. If, for example, it is decided to reduce single area payments then the money saved will be utilised to support the sector in another, more productive, way.

Businesses cannot plan for the future if government policies are unclear, short-term or uncertain. Government has taken a long-term approach to supporting the dairy sector which has historically wrestled with low profitability, but with consistent government support, recent private investment and an expanding exports market, there is an increasing optimism within the sector.

Government support for the Jersey Royal brand has encouraged considerable private investment in the arable sector, whilst competing in an increasingly competitive market place. Some Jersey Royal producers are now feeling the pressure created not only by the markets but also by farming to a model that has not evolved for a number of decades.

We are currently reviewing the Rural Economy Strategy and have undertaken significant consultation on priorities for the next RES, with a new market-focussed model for rural support being considered for 2017.  I look forward to launching ‘Farm Jersey’ in 2016 to assist with this.

 

My vision for Jersey’s rural economy is that it will be innovative, productive, sustainable and diverse – increased focus on marketing, increasing productivity and driving down costs, refocussing Govt. resources into areas of greatest need and where they will deliver the greatest benefit.

I am determined to help keep Jersey farming.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

five × two =