It’s essential we have the funding in place to upgrade our broadband and create a level playing field - Sophie McCandlish

Yorkshire Post Agricultural Correspondent Sophie McCandlish
Yorkshire Post Agricultural Correspondent Sophie McCandlish
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The North Yorkshire Rural Commission has been hearing evidence about the rural economy and the challenges businesses face in the more remote areas of the county.

Rural broadband is an issue which has been rumbling for a number of years and is now absolutely critical for anyone trying to compete in today’s business marketplace.

Giving his evidence, Mark Pybus, having diversified his family farm, said broadband had been an issue for the business early on, in fact it became such a stumbling block he installed his own superfast broadband just to try and keep his business competitive.

No business in this day and age can manage without broadband and in rural areas it is arguably even more important. When your business is out of the way, you need to advertise. And if you are a small producer you need to find a market place, for both of these online is the place they need to be.

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Whether we like it or not, the internet is our new high street, particularly when you live somewhere within the 85 per cent of North Yorkshire which is classed as ‘very rural’ or ‘super sparse’. Being unable to tap into the online market place can ultimately mean the difference between success and failure.

And what of agri-tech? Farm machinery and livestock yards are becoming increasingly technology led. The benefits are clear and as we move into a new future for farming, it too could determine the success or failure of farms to adapt to the new post-Brexit system.

The NFU recently published the results of its member survey into mobile and broadband coverage which showed more than one in four farmers still had inadequate broadband coverage. This figure, as the NFU rightly points out, makes it almost impossible to run a modern day business.

The rural commission will publish its report in the summer and the issue of rural connectivity must be high on the list of action points.

The NFU is calling on the Government to make it a priority in 2020 and for farming to lead the way post Brexit, it is essential we have the funding in place to upgrade our broadband and create a level playing field.