ONE of the most important reports ever to affect the future of the British countryside is due for publication today - the Haskins' report on the future of farming and other countryside businesses.
It will reveal the recommendations from East Riding farmer and former chairman of Northern Foods, Lord Haskins, about future government support for the hard-hit agricultural sector following the disastrous foot and mouth epidemic two years ago.
His Rural Delivery Review is expected to herald significant changes in Government policy and how its delivery affects the way people live and work in the countryside, the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) said today.
CLA Regional Director North, Douglas Chalmers believes that whatever Lord Haskins says will be the tip of an iceberg and may well provide the catalyst for further changes presently under discussion.
Mr Chalmers says: "Whilst we believe that farming should continue to be the focus of rural life, it will be a different type of farming, as primary food production gives way to other industries in farm buildings and leisure and tourism enterprises for visitors.
"It is a sad fact of life that Britain no longer relies on its own farmers for food. Encouraged by big business and allowed to by Government, consumers look abroad for cheaper produce."
It is believed that the report will recommend a return to more traditional methods of farming, which are more environment-friendly, with farmers being rewarded for their part in conserving the landscape, rather than over-producing food which cannot be marketed.
If so, Yorkshire Dales and Lake District hill farmers, who work some of the most beautiful but inhospitable land in the country, should be major beneficiaries.