From the editor: Small farms need protection in rush to define the future


As the scramble to define the future of British agriculture seems to heat up every week, so the number of voices who want to have their say grows.

With farming unions and representative groups starting to put their ideas in to the mix, previously peripheral factions such as the rewilders seem to be getting their often ludicrous salvoes heard in the mainstream.

It shows the challenge new Defra Secretary Andrea Leadsom, taking over from the career-minded Liz Truss, faces as she is bombarded from all sides with opinions about what a future farm policy should look like.

Whatever her thoughts, however, it is crucial the viability of all UK farm businesses is maintained.

Many within farming fear it is the small and medium-sized farms across the UK, often family-run, which could lose the most if a policy was brought in which sacrificed them at the altar of large agri-business or environmentalism.


Striking the right balance when it comes to trade agreements is vital so it is not just the huge farm businesses, with relevant economies of scale, which can survive.

And when it comes to environmentalism, the small farms which have shaped our glorious landscape must be allowed to prosper and play their part in the most vital process of all, food production.

And then there is the human cost, as both Prince Charles (P3) and Charles Smith (P2), of Farming Community Network, allude to this week.

Farms, many of which are small or family run, are often at the heart of our rural communities. Without their long-term stability, the very social fabric which binds the countryside together could slowly be pulled apart.

UK farming never has been about one particular farm type or size, and if its diversity is going to be protected then we need policies and political representation which puts farming first.


And finally...

This week has been a scorcher for many, with harvest, second cut silage and even hay making taking place. To keep an eye on all things weather related go to www.farmersweather.co.uk.

Ben Briggs
Posted by Ben Briggs
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