New national networks on rural policy

Defra is creating a network of rural and farming groups across the UK to help it better understand and promote the interests of rural communities and businesses, Agriculture Minister Jim Paice announced today at the Oxford Farming Conference.

Fourteen networks will be created in order to supply central government with feedback on local issues and concerns. They will consist of people involved in rural communities, businesses and the food and farming industries, who will feed back local issues and concerns to government, which will help shape future rural policies.

The minister said: “For too long our rural communities have been overlooked and had too little say in decisions which affect them. We are putting that right through the Rural and Farming Networks. They will have direct access to ministers and, just as importantly, ministers will use them to ensure we understand the impact of our policies.
“Defra will be the ‘listening’ department that will understand and promote the interests of rural communities and businesses, based on direct contact with the people whose livelihoods we are championing.”

The Rural and Farming Network groups are: Farming Food and Rural Network East; Rural Network East Midlands; Lincolnshire Forum for Agriculture and Horticulture; Derbyshire Economic Partnership Rural Forum; Food, Farming and Rural Affairs Tees Valley; Farming and Rural Issues Group (covering much of the South East); Essex Rural Partnership; The Kent Rural Network; Rural Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Partnership; South West Rural and Farming Network; Worcestershire Rural Hub (covering Worcestershire and close links with Warwickshire); The Rural Hubs Partnership (covering Herefordshire, Shropshire and Staffs); Yorkshire Food, Farming and Rural Network; The North Eastern Farming and Rural Advisory Network.

The new network will sit alongside the Rural Economy Growth Review announced in November, a multi-million package of measures to stimulate sustainable growth in rural businesses, expand the food and drink sector, decrease farming regulation, support community-owned renewable energy schemes and improve rural tourism.

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