The Essex Rural Partnership (ERP), which brings together key organisations in Essex to consider, debate and act on major rural issues, has been named as one of only 14 successful bodies to be part of Defra’s new ‘Rural and Farming Network’.

This means that Essex will benefit from a direct link to Government to feedback local concerns and help shape future rural policies.

The Network will bring together people from rural communities, rural businesses and the food and farming industries from different parts of the country, creating new opportunities for better and more targeted policy.

Each group will also be a vital contact point in the event of a local emergency, such as flooding, giving advice and information so that the right kind of assistance can be provided to rural communities and businesses affected.

Suzanne Harris, Development Manager for Partnerships at RCCE who wrote the bid for the ERP said “I am thrilled that the Essex Rural Partnership has been accepted to be a part of the Rural and Farming Network.  In inviting the ERP to join the Network Defra is acknowledging the success and effectiveness of the ERP and its work to date.  Our link to Government was previously through a regional body – this new invitation shows that Defra recognises the significance of Essex, in its own right, as a rural county, which is very pleasing.” 

The new Network sits alongside a £165 million package of measures to support the rural economy, announced by the Government in the Rural Economy Growth Review.

The Rural and Farming Network is expected to meet for the first time in April and then on an annual basis.  Defra ministers and officers will also be making outreach visits to Network members to discuss individual policy areas or issues of importance to rural communities.

The Rural and Farming Network members are:

1.         Farming Food and Rural Network East

2.         Rural Network East Midlands

3.         Lincolnshire Forum for Agriculture and Horticulture

4.         Derbyshire Economic Partnership Rural Forum

5.         Food, Farming and Rural Affairs Tees Valley

6.         Farming and Rural Issues Group (covering much of the South East)

7.         Essex Rural Partnership

8.         The Kent Rural Network

9.         Rural Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Partnership

10.       South West Rural and Farming Network

11.       Worcestershire Rural Hub (covering Worcestershire and close links with Warwickshire)

12.       The Rural Hubs Partnership (covering Herefordshire, Shropshire and Staffs)

13.       Yorkshire Food, Farming and Rural Network

14.       The North Eastern Farming and Rural Advisory Network

For more information about the Essex Rural Partnership (ERP) visit or for more information about Defra’s Rural and Farming Network visit