A hopeful future
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