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The countryside perseveres through uncertainty and political neglect

Friesian cows grazing on the beautiful mid Devon Countryside England. Image shot 2008. Exact date unknown....B159RF Friesian cows grazing on the beautiful mid Devon Countryside England. Image shot 2008. Exact date unknown. 
Friesian cows grazing on the mid Devon Countryside England.

These are not easy times for those who live and work in the countryside. Brexit uncertainties have fuelled anxieties about future export markets and competition from imports for farmers. A sense that the political discourse is almost exclusively a metropolitan one has hardly been disabused by the shenanigans at Westminster.

Politicians who seek to support local food, farming and the environment are often too slow to recognise other priorities of rural communities, though Boris Johnson in his Telegraph column this week did highlight the pressing importance of improved broadband connectivity.

As he wrote, this is no longer a luxury item but an indispensable tool of modern life and one arguably more important in sparsely populated communities where public transport is non-existent. Succeeding as a rural business can often mean surmounting barriers that would not be faced in a town or city.

The very best examples were on show at the House of Lords yesterday where the Countryside Alliance staged its 14th awards ceremony known as the Rural Oscars. The event was a showcase for the extraordinary local food renaissance that has taken place in Britain in recent years, based around the provision of locally-sourced, high quality produce.

Among the winners were a mobile farm shop that operates out of a converted horsebox in Sussex, a Herefordshire crisp-making firm which sells its products in biodegradable and compostable packets, and an entrepreneur who encourages the growth of farmers’ markets in Suffolk.

Even in these unpredictable times, resilience, determination and innovation were to the fore.