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Need for small farms support in Agriculture Bill

Need for small farms support in Agriculture Bill

CPRE join farming and environmental alliance to protect farm size diversity

The Campaign to Protect Rural England has joined forces with the Family Farmers Association, Friends of the Earth, New Economics Foundation, Landworkers Alliance, Sustain, and the Tenant Farmers Association to call for farm diversity to be protected and improved in new agriculture legislation.

Farm diversity helps to create a resilient and dynamic farming industry, which works for the wider community as well as for the environment.

The alliance argues that having a range of farm sizes and types is vital to ensure a thriving farming and rural industry, available and attractive to new entrants, helping farmers make progress and producing a healthy countryside.

Yet last year’s CPRE Farming Foresight paper, ‘Uncertain harvest: does the loss of farms matter?’ demonstrated that a fifth of English farms have disappeared in the past 10 years, with the rate fastest among the smallest farms. Almost a third of farms under 50 hectares disappeared between 2005 and 2015.

Graeme Willis, Senior Rural Policy Campaigner at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said:

‘The Government has great ambition for the environment but needs now to match that with ambition to deliver a diverse farming sector that helps  farms of all sizes  to prosper. We need a new agricultural policy that enables all farmers to earn a viable income and  maintain the rich matrix of farms and farmers that we have - or we risk losing the custodians of a stunning and varied countryside, as well as our food producers.

‘This time of change is a tremendous opportunity to build a sustainable farming sector that works with nature and contributes to thriving rural communities. Current farmers and the next generation need to be excited about the future and what businesses they can build with the resources to invest in that future.’

CPRE, along with the other organisations supporting this initiative, recognise the far-reaching social, economic and environmental benefits of a diverse farm sector.

The joint statement asks for clear acknowledgement of the need for safeguards in new national agriculture policy and for specific measures to rebalance support to strengthen the dynamism, innovation and sustainability of smaller enterprises.

These include:

  • redistribution of future support so that the farm budget is more evenly shared between larger and smaller farms
  • training, mentoring and advice tailored towards smaller and medium sized farm businesses
  • dedicated loan and grant packages that are easy to access for smaller farm businesses to drive innovation, productivity and profitability

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