Rural Business Focus Podcast

Episode 100! What is the future for rural business? – with Natasha Foote and Erik Elgersma

In this episode, Ben Eagle is joined by Eric Elgersma and Natasha Foote to discuss the macro and global issues that will shape the world of rural businesses. They explore topics such as transition, connection, and the impact of European and global politics on rural businesses. They also discuss the trends of size and scale, collaboration, and the importance of being fit for purpose in the rural business sector. The conversation touches on the recent EU elections and the potential implications for rural businesses. Overall, the episode provides insights into the challenges and opportunities facing rural businesses in the coming years. The conversation explores trends and themes in rural businesses. Key trends identified include a focus on sustainability, diversification of business models, local consumption, digital transformation, and generational renewal. The importance of infrastructure, both digital and physical, is highlighted. The discussion also touches on the role of government in rural areas, with a potential shift towards more regional and national decision-making. The concept of sustainability is discussed, emphasizing the need for both environmental and economic sustainability. The future of the rural workforce is explored, with a focus on automation and improving working conditions. The conversation concludes with a reflection on confidence levels in rural businesses, highlighting the passion and innovation of young farmers.


  • Transition is a key factor that will shape rural businesses in the coming years, particularly in terms of food quality, consumer needs, environment, climate, and ownership consolidation.
  • Connection is another important theme, highlighting the need to bridge the gap between EU policy and rural areas, as well as fostering connections within the agri-food chain and promoting sustainability.
  • The recent EU elections have seen a rise in right-wing and far-right parties, which may have implications for the direction of green policies and the allocation of funds for rural areas.
  • The trend of consolidation and the importance of being fit for purpose are key considerations for rural businesses. Being able to meet consumer needs, retain local support, and demonstrate sustainability are crucial for long-term success.
  • The EU’s focus on food security and the lessons learned from recent crises highlight the need for a re-evaluation of the role of agriculture and self-sufficiency within the EU.
  • The de-ruralisation of the political voice in the UK and the growing divergence between political rhetoric and actual support for rural businesses is a challenge that needs to be addressed.
  • Winners in the agri-food sector are those who can meet consumer needs, demonstrate sustainability, and invest in the future, while losers are those who fail to adapt to changing market demands and regulations. Trends in rural businesses include a focus on sustainability, diversification of business models, local consumption, digital transformation, and generational renewal.
  • Infrastructure, both digital and physical, is crucial for the success of rural businesses.
  • Sustainability encompasses both environmental and economic aspects and is essential for the resilience of rural businesses.
  • Automation and improving working conditions are key considerations for the future of the rural workforce.
  • Confidence levels in rural businesses are influenced by challenges but are also driven by the passion and innovation of young farmers.

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Please note that this podcast does not constitute advice. Our podcast disclaimer can be found here. 

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