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More business investment is a major boost for rural economy, says report

Employment and investment will rise next year as the rural economy continues to benefit from a more positive UK economy, according to a survey by the CLA and Marlborough-based land agents Smiths Gore.

Data from the Rural Economy Index for the first half of 2014 shows more farming and non-agricultural businesses expecting to increase investment in the next 12 months.

For agricultural businesses, optimism is up six percent reaching a net balance of 42 percent – the highest high since the survey started – as the farming sector continues to recover from its dip in 2012.

More farming businesses expect to invest further in their businesses – a net balance of 36 percent, up from six percent.

Non-agricultural businesses have also become more positive about business investments, with a net balance of 46 percent expecting higher investment in the next 12 months, again the highest level recorded by the REI.

CLA President Henry Robinson said: “Investment is vital if the rural economy is to continue to grow and recover. It is a major boost that the survey shows investment is expected to rise in both the farming sector and non-farming businesses.”

Dr Jason Beedell, head of research at Smiths Gore said: “Farming businesses continue to recover from a challenging 2012, and the balance now expect sales and profits to be higher in the next year.

“Just under 40 percent of the non-agricultural rural businesses reported higher sales over the past six months and 58 percent expect sales growth next year – fantastic news for the rural economy as a whole.”