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02 August 2017

FSB calls for a Taskforce for Rural Economies

As we enter the summer agricultural show season I will be talking to lots of FSB members on how our rural economy should develop in the future. 

Last week, the FSB published a new report calling for a renewed emphasis on development of the rural economy in Wales. A Taskforce for Rural Economies called on the Welsh Government to implement a Taskforce which would oversee the “rural-proofing” of policy for Wales, as well as to implement a Rural Challenge Fund. This would be an open fund designed to attract new ideas and new thinking for economic development in rural areas. The emphasis would be on allowing rural areas to design their own projects and interventions in a number of areas in order to further economic development.

This could include ideas such as farm diversification into areas such as renewable energy and food production or projects to increase the impact of local procurement spend.

So what does this mean for North Wales?

Firstly, the report makes the case that a rural economy is not an exclusively agricultural economy. The rural economy is diverse and made up of agricultural businesses, the tourism sector, manufacturing and every other industry that we see across Wales. Therefore, any plan for the rural economy must encompass all of these industries and the issues that they face.

A Taskforce could also support businesses that are looking to diversify or increase the value of their offering. Wales already has a strong and distinctive offer, and supporting businesses to enhance to value of their product or service will ensure that they become even more sustainable and able to continue to contribute to local economies.

The North Wales rural economy is diverse, bold and dynamic – which was clear from our recent North Wales Policy Conference. A Taskforce for Rural Economies could help support the work that rural businesses do and ensure that they are given the best support possible from policy makers.

Gwyn Evans – FSB North Wales Chair