As the world continues to change, rural businesses have to adapt to ensure they continue to be viable into the future. The ways and reasons they need to change are as varied as the number of industry types found in the rural setting, so it stands to reason there is not a one size fits all solution for rural businesses. However, some of the issues are much more pressing and concern everyone across the board, but again how an individual business needs to react will depend to an extent on the type of business.
The biggest issue affecting rural (and non-rural) businesses is the climate change emergency because, without immediate and well-considered change, the countryside will not be the same as it is now, rendering many rural businesses unviable in their current form. Thankfully there are plenty of things that various rural-based industries can do now to start making effective changes.
In the field of farming and food production, farmers are already investigating ways to reduce their environmental impact while still keeping a viable business model. Switching to environmentally friendly vehicles on the farm helps to reduce their carbon emissions. Although from 2022, many industries will have to switch to DERV from red diesel, agriculture and horticulture are exempt from this, but consumers will look more favorably on those producers within these industries that are making changes in their fuel consumption, which in turn means they will pull in a greater profit.
Rewilding is also an increasingly popular way to lessen the impact of farming on the landscape; in fact, its purpose is to reverse the damage caused by the intensive farming practices that over the last one hundred or so years have become been employed to try to squeeze more and more food production out of every bit of land, no matter how inappropriate to the types of land being used.
By leaving low production areas of land to revert to their natural state, beneficial animals and insects return to the land; this can also be achieved by cutting down on the overuse of commercial fertilizers that kill off organisms in the soil and render it sterile. In the case where animals that better match the natural environment of a farm and left to roam and graze naturally, the farmer will find themselves with top-quality outdoor bred meat that can be sold (preferably locally) at a premium.
With more high-quality food becoming available by small local producers, people want easy access to this wealth of delicious produce, meaning that either the producers themselves or an enterprising third party can find ways to sell this food to the local market.
Farm shops are one excellent way of allowing several local food producers to sell their products under one roof, usually situated on one of the producer’s farms (hence the name farm shop) or in a central rural village.
This allows residents of rural areas access to foodstuffs they would otherwise typically have to travel to large centers to access while encouraging local small-scale food production (honey, jams and preserves, and baked goods sell well alongside fruit, vegetables, and meat), bringing more jobs into the rural community. The rise of online shopping allows such shops and producers to make their products available to a wider community without taking business out of town.
Modernizing in rural communities goes beyond food though, the rural tourism sector can modernize to ensure it has a strong appeal in the future. The farm stay bed and breakfast or holiday cottage has long been a mainstay of the rural economy and should continue to do so for years to come with a few improvements in line with what is happening in more urban areas.
As electric vehicles become the norm, more charging places for these cars are essential, and having a charging port fitted at your holiday let, allows a more diverse customer base to choose to make the long journey as they know that they will not find themselves stuck on a country road with a flat battery.
Upgrading to alternative energy sources, such as solar panels, will also increase the eco-credentials of a holiday let while in the long-term, making it more cost-effective. While it is true, the initial outlay can be off-putting, with the use of a smart business plan, it will be worth it when your property ranks high in the rating in coming years, while properties that haven’t modernized perform poorly.