RASE SHAKES UP RESOURCES; 'Our Farming Policy Is Purely Commercial'
THE Royal Agricultural Society of England is to embark on an intensive programme of structural change, set increased membership targets and leave commercial farming in order to invest a minimum of pounds 6 million over the next four years in technology transfer, education and the policy debate.
The changes are being introduced to ensure that the society is structurally and financially able to meet the challenge of falling farm profits and other changes affecting the rural economy.
"How we manage our own land will be seen as the most contentious change,'' says RASE chief executive, Mike Calvert.
"However, it makes sense. Our farming policy today is purely commercial. There is little prospect in the short to medium term that returns are going to improve dramatically from farming. We believe that the resources presently tied up in the farm can be used more effectively in other ways.
"In fact, the RASE has a responsibility under Royal Charter to promote and improve the science and practice of agriculture and to promote education, care for rural communities, RF&D and the transfer of technology.
"On the other side of the coin, we fund those activities by generating income through interest on our assets and from events, such as the Royal Show, technical events, such as Cereals, and our membership.
"The society has a proud history of striking that balance and fulfilling its responsibilities, but demands on our resources are likely to increase in the immediate future. We have, therefore, got to make our assrts work mich harder and increase our influence and income by attracting more members.''
Membership, currently running at 10,300, is not regarded as good enough and firm targets for development are being set for the next five years. …