Society is changing and several important challenges are faced by the UK rural economy.

Public Trust in Food Chains

When asked about the food that they eat, people express concern over the use of pesticides, antibiotics and hormones in food production and their effects on humans and the environment

Tackling Animal and Plant Disease

In the 2001 Foot and Mouth outbreak over 6.5 million animals were culled and £3 billion was lost to tourism. The Foot and Mouth outbreak highlighted the need to address the issue of animal disease in a socially acceptable manner.

Sustainable Farming in the New Europe

Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reforms have removed subsidies on farm production. From 2005, farmers receive payments decoupled from production. There will be large consequences of this change in policy for the management of the countryside, but as yet these consequences are unknown.

Robust Rural Economies

A quarter of low income households are in rural areas. Earnings are particularly low in remote parts of the countryside. More robust economies need to be encouraged in these areas.

Land Management Techniques to Deal with Climate Change and Invasive Species

One in eight of the 20,000 native UK species are currently threatened with extinction. Land management needs to be improved in order to counteract the effects of climate change and invasive species, especially as these are expected to increase the threat to many native species.

Managing Land and Water Use for Sustainable Water Catchments

Pollution from farmland runoff accounts for 50-70 per cent of the nutrients contaminating rivers and lakes. The ecological damage caused and clean-up costs of this are unacceptably high. Action to prevent this contamination requires complex changes to the way land and water are used in the UK.