A hope­ful fu­ture

Country Smallholding - - Inside This Month -

There has been a huge amount of un­cer­tainty about the fu­ture of farm­ing in Bri­tain postBrexit. Doom-mon­gers have been to the fore, al­though some of the con­cerns seem well founded. This month, how­ever, we re­port on a most en­cour­ag­ing sur­vey of small farms con­ducted by The Land­work­ers’ Al­liance. This group of farm­ers, grow­ers and land-based work­ers have brought a breath of fresh air into the farm­ing de­bate, of­ten dom­i­nated by those with large-scale farms and by pow­er­ful lobby groups. The LWA re­port, which we sum­marise on pages 60-61, shows that, far from be­ing edged out, small farms rep­re­sent a vi­brant sec­tor, pro­vid­ing em­ploy­ment as well as at­tract­ing new en­trants and en­trepreneurs. The re­port was based on a sur­vey of 69 hold­ings of 20 hectares and looked at di­ver­sity, pro­duc­tiv­ity, fi­nan­cial vi­a­bil­ity and mul­ti­func­tional ben­e­fits of such small farms. It found a thriv­ing, healthy sec­tor which of­fers great op­por­tu­ni­ties for as­pir­ing new en­rants to a fu­ture in farm­ing and grow­ing. These small farms were found to be per­form­ing well fi­nan­cially. The sec­tor also of­fers op­por­tu­ni­ties to learn about and en­gage in is­sues such as cli­mate change, bio­di­ver­sity and soil de­ple­tion. Ad­di­tion­ally, the re­port high­lights the dra­matic in­crease in the num­ber of small, agroe­co­log­i­cal mar­ket gar­dens in Bri­tain. The re­port’s au­thor, Re­becca Laughton, says this sec­tor de­serves much closer at­ten­tion by pol­icy mak­ers as it ad­dresses many of the chal­lenges the UK will face in food pro­duc­tion over com­ing years, as well has as hav­ing a pos­i­tive im­pact in re­duc­ing green­house gas emis­sions and food waste and play­ing a part in re­build­ing ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties. What is needed now is recog­ni­tion and sup­port from cen­tral govern­ment.

Si­mon McEwan, Edi­tor

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