Small-scale family farms – the heart of a sustainable future.

Small family farmers in the UK and world need to work together and move down the road of sustainable farming methods with the environment at their cores. 

Farmers here in the UK are faced with huge uncertainty with the loss of farm subsidies post-Brexit. The common agricultural policy was introduced in 1962, to help secure food supply.

In many cases it’s a lifeline for farms, without it many small farmers would not survive. In layman’s terms, food is too cheap – farmers can’t produce food at these prices without subsidies. Why, there are many reasons, but namely globalisation allows imports of food that can be produced cheaply (lower standards, better climates etc). So that is a brief and basic analysis of the situation. 

Prince Charles has urged small farmers to band together to cope with the coming shocks and shift to a low-carbon economy: “There are small farms the world over which could come together in a global cooperative committed to producing food based on high environmental standards … With the skills of ethical entrepreneurs and a determination from the farmers to make it work, I would like to think it could provide a very real and hopeful future.”

Farming is undergoing a “massive transition”, and the needs of family farmers must be taken into account, the prince said.

“To me, it is essential the contribution of the small-scale family farmer is properly recognised – they must be a key part in any fair, inclusive, equitable and just transition to a sustainable future. To do this, we must ensure that Britain’s family farmers have the tools and the confidence to meet the rapid transition to regenerative farming systems that our planet demands,” he said.

If we don’t start supporting our British farmers and buying from them there will gradually be less and less of them. The consumer has the power to turn this around.

If we as consumers can connect and learn more about our farmers and their systems, this will encourage farmers to produce more transparently which will lead to a path of better farming practices and sustainable production methods. By knowing more about our food, we as consumers are likely to pay more for it. By paying more for it, we may eat chicken for instance once a week (as opposed to much more regularly), but at least we will be supporting our farmers, the livestock and the environment. We have Packington Free Range selling their chickens on our marketplace for £14/bird, when compared to supermarket chicken that can be bought for as little as £3/bird. Its not hard to work out something sinister is at play – and its not someone making a big margin! The word Free-Range comes with added costs, but arguably they are less than the environmental and health costs of buying a £3 bird!!

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