A letter to the times

A letter to The Times highlights the desire for change in British farming post Brexit. 

Further to Oliver Moody’s article “Sow the seeds now for the future of farming” (Aug 4), the industry is on the cusp of a technical revolution. Biology is replacing chemistry and heavy cultivating work on commercial profitable farms, where zero-till and cover crops cut costs and raise output. Biology is equally beneficial in low-cost grazing systems, and in both cases farmers are finding their work fascinating and profitable. With little interest from Defra, it’s a technology that is being developed and shared by farmers themselves.

The farming revolution is equally evident in the sale of farm produce. Direct selling from farm to consumer is an obvious way to increase margins, but has largely involved farm shops and farmers’ markets. Now rural broadband is linking farmers, even in remote areas, with urban consumers through food assemblies, which provide online ordering and easy collection from central meeting places.

Today’s farm “support”, which is based on a farm’s size, provides state help to the biggest, richest farmers who enjoy efficiencies of scale. So the big get bigger, taking on land through business tenancies, and the landscape becomes increasingly uniform.

If we want agricultural diversity there needs to be a fundamental change in subsidy systems, as Oliver Moody implies.

Mike Donovan

Editor & Publisher, Practical Farm Ideas