Agenda item

Agriculture (attached).



(a)  Agriculture


Councillor Bulled addressed the Committee as the appointed lead Member of the working group for agriculture.


She highlighted the following points to the Committee:


·       The members of the working group had agreed to focus on the uncertain state of agriculture support and its impact upon farming income.

·       To broaden the knowledge of the non-farming community and to highlight the difficult situation that farmers were currently experiencing together with the impact upon the wider community.

·       To seek greater recognition and support for the policy implications in terms of the financial and cultural health of the rural farming economy.

·       The importance of acknowledging the benefits to the wider community in food production together with environmental enhancement to support tourism and investment from other businesses in the future of North Devon.



She added that as the current proposals regarding agricultural payments to farmers were unknown; any way forward in terms of support to farmers might take some time despite the imminent future loss of income. 


She proposed that the item be considered later in the Committee’s work programme to allow Members to be fully informed of the potential situation at the point of discussion.


In response to questions, the Director of Resources and Deputy Chief Executive advised the following:


·       North Devon Council did not have a specific policy in relation to agriculture, they did however work closely with North Devon +.

·       A large amount of the North Devon + programmes and advertising was shared via the Council’s media channels and the Communications team always ensured that all wider public information was shared.

·       Establishment of a Rural Working Group to include a wider group of Members outside of the Committee with a view to developing a rural policy for North Devon Council would require approval from both the Strategy and Resources Committee and Full Council and consideration would need to be given regarding the aspirations of such a group and where its role would sit within the wider Council priorities.

·       A corporate priority workshop was scheduled to be held in October 2023 and the potential establishment of such a rural working group would ideally need to be determined prior to that workshop.

The Head of Programme Management and Performance added that Members could look at the Terms of Reference for the Climate Action team, which had already been established to assist with the development of the Carbon Reduction Plan. This would then inform all members to determine the remit of a potential working group together with the strength of the proposal.


The Committee discussed the following:


·       That the sharing of information was key to ensure that the public were fully informed about the financial impact on the farmers with the loss of subsidies.

·       That the landscape would be impacted upon significantly and the communications had to be right.

·       That there appeared to be more emphasis on the environment as opposed to food produce.

·       That farmers could potentially lose up to 80% profit with the average farming family earning £18K a year, the majority of which funded through subsidies; the loss of these would have a direct impact.

·       The knock on effect to the general public would be an increase in food prices and smaller farms would suffer financially.




(a)   that the agriculture item be considered at the March 2024 meeting of the Committee;


(b)  That the working group develop a plan of how they would like to approach the issue; and


(c)  That the working group also explore the proposal of establishing a wider rural working group.







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