Economic comeback for rural businesses

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The North’s rural economy is firmly in recovery as growth has spread from non-farming businesses to the farming sector, new data suggests.

Over the last three months the rural economy has shown continued improvement under The Rural Economy Index, a barometer of businesses in the countryside carried out by the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) and Smiths Gore.

More farming businesses reported rising sales than falling sales for the first time in a year, while sales for non-farming businesses had a net balance of 44 per cent compared to just two per cent in the previous three months.

Dorothy Fairburn, the association’s regional director, said: “Rural areas were last to enter the recession so it is good news that recovery in the rural economy is now firmly rooted.

“For farming businesses, the pessimism of the last year has gone, and they are now looking forward to higher sales and profits in the next year.”

According to the survey, profits for agricultural businesses are expected to rise in the next 12 months, for the first time since the second quarter in 2012, increasing by 11 per cent. Profit expectations for non-agricultural businesses have risen by 48 per cent.

Dr Jason Beedell, Smiths Gore’s head of research, said: “Business support is very important to sustain the recovery and the investment strategies being prepared by Local Enterprise Partnerships right now must support rural businesses.”